Cavity prevention starts early in life – and fluoride plays an important role! Part of your child’s dental routine should include getting recommended fluoride treatments from the pediatric dentist. How often is this needed, and why does it matter? Here’s what you need to know to help your child develop a bright, healthy smile for life.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that helps keep tooth enamel strong and solid. It occurs naturally and is also added to things like water, toothpaste, and specialized dental treatments to help prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride works by remineralizing tooth surfaces. This can help fight against harmful bacteria that can form on the teeth after eating sugary foods and carbohydrates. Benefits of fluoride may include:
- Prevention of cavities
- Reduced need for fillings or extractions
- Reduced pain and discomfort associated with tooth decay
- A healthier, brighter smile
How Do Fluoride Treatments Help Kids?
Professional fluoride treatments provided by your child’s dentist can help strengthen your child’s teeth while they are developing. This can lay the foundation for a healthier smile for life.
For example, a treatment called fluoride varnish can prevent about one-third of cavities in the primary (baby) teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here at Pediatric Dentistry of the North Shore, we offer this treatment regularly as part of our fluoride treatments for kids.
How Do Fluoride Treatments Work?
Fluoride treatments are quick and painless. While your child is at the dental office, the fluoride is applied to the teeth in a gel, foam, or varnish form. For 30 minutes afterward, your child is asked to not eat or drink to allow the fluoride treatment time to set to the teeth. That’s it! Then the fluoride gets to work protecting the teeth.
When Should My Child Get Fluoride Treatments?
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that fluoride varnish be applied to the primary teeth of all infants and children starting at the age of primary tooth eruption.
Generally, fluoride treatments are recommended at least once every six months, up to four times a year. Your pediatric dentist can talk with you more about this and answer any questions you may have.
Are There Risks with Fluoride for Kids?
Up until about age 8 while children’s teeth are still developing, a condition called fluorosis can potentially occur if kids consume too much fluoride. This can alter the appearance of the tooth enamel, resulting in white spots or other visible irregularities on the teeth. It is not always easily seen. Sometimes, it may only be detectable by a dental professional.
Talk with your child’s doctor about the appropriate amount of fluoride to maintain healthy teeth. The benefits of fluoride far outweigh the risks.
How Else Can I Protect My Child’s Teeth?
Developing healthy habits early on is important. Ways to help protect your child’s teeth include:
- Regular dental exams and cleanings
- Regular tooth brushing and regular flossing when your child’s teeth start to fit closer together
- Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet
- Dental sealants, which can be applied by your child’s dentist to the surfaces of the teeth to help prevent cavities
Schedule an Appointment Today
The team at Pediatric Dentistry of the North Shore is here to support your child’s dental needs from infancy through adolescence. Our services include everything from routine exams and fluoride treatments to cosmetic dentistry and emergency dental services. To schedule your child’s appointment, contact us today at 978-777-3744.