Is Fluoride Treatment Safe for Children?
According to the ADA, fluoride treatment is an essential preventive procedure recommended for both children and adults. Fluoride is a natural mineral found in the earth’s surface, food, water, and dental products like toothpaste and mouth rinses. It is also nature’s cavity fighter.
However, despite its effectiveness in preventing cavities, 13 percent of parents’ refuse fluoride treatments for their children. They are unresolved about the safety and effectiveness of fluoride. Yes, the safety of fluoride treatments is a growing concern among parents. But, before you ignore fluoride treatment, here is what you need to know.
What Does Fluoride Do?
Every day our teeth go through two processes; demineralization and re-mineralization. Due to our habits and dental practices, the teeth are stripped of the essential minerals that are vital to maintaining their strength. Phosphate and calcium give the enamel its strength. When demineralization occurs, it leaves the enamel exposed and weak.
Fortunately, the enamel can restore these minerals (re-mineralization) if supplied with fluoride. When you brush and rinse your mouth with fluoride, the teeth can reabsorb these minerals. Also, fluoride shields the teeth and makes them hard enough to withstand bacterial attacks.
That is why fluoride is important for your teeth and gums.
Why is it Important to Children?
Children are prone to cavities more than adults. It is reported that one in every two children develop dental cavities at least one time in their childhood years. This is mostly because of poor dental hygiene and their love of high-sugar foods.
Our mouth is filled with acid-producing bacteria that feed on sugar. The higher the consumption of sugary foods, the more acid is produced. Acid attacks the enamel causing tiny holes to form on the teeth. Fluoride not only strengthens the enamel but also neutralizes the ph in the mouth.
When is Fluoride Recommended for Children?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends fluoride treatment for all children as soon as the first tooth comes out to prevent decay and future dental infections. While several topical fluorides are available, the varnish is the best option for children.
Dentists apply varnish on the teeth in small amounts to reduce the chances of the child swallowing. The fluoride treatment is recommended at least two to four times a year depending on your child’s risk level.
How is The Varnish Applied?
The pediatric dentist will apply the varnish on the enamel and it quickly hardens. You may notice the teeth turning yellow or darken. This is normal and your child’s teeth will return to their natural shade after the varnish is brushed out.
The varnish does not hurt when it is applied and it has a pleasant taste.
The dentist leaves it on the teeth for a couple of hours (4 to 12 hours) before rinsing it out. It is advisable to wait until the next morning to brush or floss. Also, your child should eat only soft foods and liquids immediately after the varnish is applied.
Is Fluoride Treatment Safe?
Yes, it is safe for children. Fluoride overdose is rare as long as the mineral is used according to plan. However, it is important to take the necessary precaution to prevent fluorosis to occur. Here are a few tips:
- For children under three years, use a rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Use a pea-sized amount if the child is between three and six years.
- Supervise your child when they are brushing and encourage them to spit the toothpaste.
- Do not give your child fluoride mouth rinses and they may swallow it.
What Other Preventive Measures You Can Take?
Fluoride treatment is one part of the puzzle; you need other preventive measures to protect the child’s teeth. Ensure they brush and floss every day especially after eating. Visit a pediatric dental clinic every six months for assessment and cleaning. Finally, consider dental sealants. Speak to our kid’s dentist in Phoenix, AZ, for more information about dental sealants.
Fluoride treatment is a safe and effective preventive measure. Visit Desert Ridge Pediatric Dentistry for more information about fluoride treatment and its importance in your child’s dental health.