Fluoride is a natural mineral that hardens tooth enamel and helps to prevent cavities. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children aged six months to 16 years receive fluoride in some form daily.
Fluoride reduces the incidence and severity of cavities by hardening the enamel and making it more resistant to plaque acids. It also helps children’s teeth develop properly before their eruption.
Long-Term Effects of Childhood Tooth Decay
Some parents believe that childhood tooth decay, particularly in primary teeth, is not a problem because these teeth will fall out to make way for permanent teeth. However, decay in the primary teeth predisposes a child to further problems later in life. Children with pediatric tooth decay are more likely to grow up with serious dental problems and tooth loss.
Benefits and Risks of In-Office Fluoride Treatment
While daily fluoride in municipal tap water, oral supplements, and toothpaste is vital for children’s dental health, in-office fluoride treatments can add an extra layer of protection against tooth decay. These treatments offer many benefits and few risks.
- Helps children’s teeth develop properly beneath the gums
- Hardens and remineralizes the enamel
- Prevents tooth decay
Fluorosis is a largely cosmetic issue when a child receives too much fluoride. This problem can cause white spots on the teeth. Severe cases could cause pitting on the teeth. Compared to the lifelong impact of tooth decay on a child’s oral health, the risks of in-office fluoride treatments are less severe.
Different Forms of In-Office Fluoride Treatment
Fluoride comes in several useful formats, but varnish is most popular for children. Fluoride varnish hardens when it touches saliva, so it is safest to give it to young children. It also creates a bond with the tooth and lasts longer than gels or foams.
When Should Children Start Receiving Fluoride?
Today, fluoride treatment starts at a much younger age than it did in the past. Pediatric dentists recommend that parents use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, about as large as a grain of rice, for children whose first tooth has just erupted and up to the age of three. After age three, dentists recommend a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Chairside fluoride treatments can also begin as soon as the first dental visit between six and 12 months of age.
Fluoride Treatment for Older Teens and Adults
Fluoride’s benefits for children are clear, but adults and older teens still stand to benefit from these treatments. Many family dentists offer fluoride varnishes, gels, and foams to their older patients.
Fluoride is a vital factor in supporting children’s dental health. Especially if you do not have fluoride in your tap water at home, talk to your dentist about what you can do at home to support your child’s lifelong oral health.
Suffolk Pediatric Dentistry provides general dentistry services, including fluoride treatments and x-rays, as well as orthodontic services to children of all ages! They have 5 convenient New York locations for any of your pediatric dentistry needs.