When children (and adults) eat or drink, the bacteria that naturally occur in the mouth feed on sugar and starches and release acids that, in the long run, erode the teeth’s protective layer, also known as enamel. Unfortunately, tooth decay and cavities can occur when enamel breaks down. Not only is this unsightly, but it’s also unhealthy for children. Parents, therefore, must be on their guard to avoid this from happening.
One of the best proactive measures for younger children with baby teeth is to have a fluoride varnish, usually done during semi-annual routine dental visits. Fluoride penetrates through the enamel, giving the tooth resistance to acid attacks. Besides this preventive approach, fluoride could reverse the very early stages of tooth decay. For these reasons, many parents are offered fluoride treatments by their dentists for their children early on.
In this post, you’ll have insights from qualified dentists on everything parents need to know about fluoride treatment for children. Then, follow this link for even more information once you’ve settled on the thought that fluoride treatment is good for your child.
1. What Fluoride Treatment Or Fluoride Varnish Is
Fluoride varnish, fluoride treatment, or fluoride stain is the same. It refers to the dental procedure often offered to children to help prevent tooth decay or slow it down. As its name suggests, this treatment uses fluoride as a component ingredient, a mineral proven to strengthen the tooth’s outer coating or the enamel.
However, it is essential to note that fluoride treatment alone can’t prevent cavities completely. It can only effectively prevent tooth decay when the child brushes at least twice daily with the right amount of fluoride toothpaste and practices other good oral habits like flossing daily, eating healthy food, and controlling sugar intake.
2. Whether Or Not Fluoride Treatment Is Important For Children
The biggest question many parents will ask at this point is whether or not fluoride treatment is really that important for children. Don’t they get enough fluoride from brushing their teeth? To answer this, yes, fluoride treatment is vital for children. It’s an added dental treatment, which also translates to added costs but is still worth doing.
Compared to adults, children have a much higher likelihood of developing cavities. It’s never an excuse to say that it’s alright for their teeth to go bad, as, at this point, they still have baby teeth anyway. Cavities can affect not just the tooth itself but can even lead to gum disease and other oral health issues.
Fluoride effectively strengthens the enamel and neutralizes the mouth’s pH levels, making it a key factor in children’s oral health.
3. How Fluoride Works To Fight Tooth Decay And Cavities
The outer covering of a child’s tooth, enamel, comprises calcium and phosphate to protect and strengthen the bone. Fluoride from dental treatments bonds with phosphate and calcium to strengthen the enamel. This reaction effectively prevents and slows down the early onset of cavities and tooth decay.
4. When Fluoride Is Most Important In Children
Infants, typically starting from six months old, and children up to 16 years old, need the right amount of fluoride to protect their teeth from cavities. Even developing teeth, including those already erupted, can significantly benefit from fluoride.
Unless your child has an unusual and exceptionally high risk for developing cavities more than a typical child their age, dentists recommend having the fluoride treatment done twice a year. At your child’s first dental visit, when they reach a year old, your pediatric dentist will start talking about fluoride treatments and when, according to your child’s current oral health, the best time to begin fluoride treatments.
However, it’s also to be remembered that governing bodies like the American Dental Association also highly recommend watching too much fluoride intake in infants and young children, as exceedingly high levels can do more harm than good. It is why it’s crucial to have this treatment done only in a dentist’s clinic you can trust.
5. How Fluoride Varnish Is Applied
Right after the dental cleaning session, the pediatric dentist applies the varnish on the teeth, which hardens quickly. You’ll notice the teeth turning dark or yellowish during this time frame. Don’t let this intimidate you. It is normal, and soon after the varnish is brushed out, your child’s tooth will return to its natural shade.
Some children may have an aversion to the fluoride’s taste, as they would with just about any other dental treatment, but it’s usually tolerable and pleasant for most. Fluoride treatments are also painless.
Once done, your dentist will recommend giving the fluoride varnish at least 4 to 12 hours before rinsing it out.
6. How Safe Fluoride Treatments Are
Fluoride treatments are safe, and dentists use them globally to help children prevent and stop the progress of tooth decay. Only a minimal amount is used on the child’s teeth, and hardly any is swallowed.
Fluoride can, however, be toxic if digested in high doses. How ‘high’ this dose is depends on the child or person’s weight. Hence, the better route is to leave this treatment only to experts.
Likewise, while generally safe, this isn’t to say that fluoride treatments are entirely free from side effects. There are, albeit minor and rare. One of these is fluorosis or fluoride-induced tooth discoloration. These spots usually occur during tooth development or in children under six.
Fluorosis, however, is only a minor aesthetic problem. You may be unable to brush it away, but a dentist can use special bleaching methods to address the issue.
7. What To Eat After Fluoride Treatment
Dentists usually recommend avoiding eating for at least 30 minutes after fluoride treatment. Post-treatment guidelines also limit what can and can’t be eaten during the first 24 hours after applying the fluoride to ensure treatment effectiveness.
First, avoid hot or cold food and drinks since the treatment makes your gums sensitive. Similarly, you’ll also have to stay away from highly acidic food. Having only a soft diet of soups, salads, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and oatmeal is advisable.
Fluoride treatments are to be applied only by a trusted pediatric dentist. While it may seem like something parents can scrub on their kids’ teeth by themselves, nothing beats the safety and assurance of the proper quantities and measurement than that done by a good dentist. Brushing fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth is painless, quick, and usually the last step during dental cleaning. As can be gathered from the insights above, fluoride treatment is safe for kids, and the benefits outweigh the risks, if any.