Fluoride Treatments in Hurst,TX
Fluoride Treatments for Kids in Hurst, TX
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is the ionic form of the element fluorine. Fluoride can be found all around us – it is naturally present in the soil, water and air. Importantly, fluoride has been shown to strengthen teeth and reduce the risk of cavities in children.
Sources of Fluoride
Children’s teeth can be exposed to fluoride through both systemic and topical sources.
Systemic fluorides are ones that are swallowed; they consist primarily of foods and beverages. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides data on the amount of fluoride present in various foods and drinks.
Topical fluorides are those that are applied directly to the teeth. Self-applied topical fluorides include fluoride toothpastes, rinses and gels. Professionally applied topical fluorides include higher-strength fluoride rinses and gels, fluoride varnishes, and silver diamine fluoride. Unlike other types of fluoride treatments, silver diamine fluoride is used primarily to stop existing tooth decay, rather than to prevent future cavities in kids. It is not discussed further here, but you can learn more by reading our post on silver diamine fluoride.
How Does Fluoride Help Prevent Cavities in Kids’ Teeth?
Inside all of our mouths, there are certain harmful bacteria that consume sugars and then produce acid. When our teeth are exposed to a highly acidic environment, they lose minerals in a process called demineralization. Often, our bodies can help our teeth regain lost minerals in a process called remineralization. However, when teeth are exposed to frequent “acid attacks,” they lose minerals faster than they can regain them, leading to permanent damage in the form of cavities.
Fluoride helps prevent cavities in children both by preventing demineralization and by enhancing the remineralization process. Fluoride accumulates in dental plaque and saliva. When harmful bacteria produce acid, fluoride is released from dental plaque. This released fluoride and the fluoride present in our saliva then get used, along with other minerals, to rebuild the hard outer layer on children’s teeth (enamel). The re-mineralized enamel, which contains more fluoride, is now more resistant to acid and therefore more resistant to tooth decay.
Is Fluoride Safe for My Child’s Teeth?
Like many other minerals (such as iron and zinc), fluoride is very beneficial at low doses but can produce negative health effects when consumed in overly high amounts. According to the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association, fluoride is both safe and beneficial for children when used appropriately.
When ingested, fluoride does carry a risk of fluorosis. Fluorosis is an enamel defect that, depending on the severity, can range from barely noticeable white spots on a child’s teeth to stained pits on the teeth. This defect occurs when excessive quantities of fluoride are ingested while a child’s teeth are still developing.
Although fluoride varnish contains a higher concentration of fluoride than fluoridated water or over-the-counter toothpaste, its use carries a significantly lower risk of fluorosis. According to the CDC, due to their propensity for swallowing toothpaste, children under six are at an increased risk of fluorosis when they brush their teeth using too much fluoride toothpaste. In contrast, no published studies indicate that professionally applied fluoride varnish is a risk factor for fluorosis. As the CDC explains, “proper application technique reduces the possibility that a patient will swallow varnish during its application and limits the total amount of fluoride swallowed as the varnish wears off the teeth over several hours.”
To help prevent toothpaste-related fluorosis, parents should closely monitor their children’s use of fluoride toothpaste and ensure they use no more than the recommended amounts. (See our tips on how to brush baby teeth for guidelines on how much toothpaste to use when brushing kids’ teeth.)
Are Professional Fluoride Treatments Necessary for Children?
Even if your child drinks fluoridated water and brushes with fluoride toothpaste, your child may still benefit from professional fluoride varnish treatments. In fact, professionally applied fluoride varnish is meant to complement other fluoride treatments, rather than to serve as a substitute.
Fluoride varnish contains higher levels of fluoride than fluoridated water or toothpaste to better protect your child’s teeth. This complementary source of fluoride is especially beneficial for children with an elevated risk of cavities. As a result, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association both recommend professional fluoride treatments for all children with an elevated risk of cavities.
However, the American Dental Association has determined that even children at low risk of developing cavities may receive additional benefit from the application of fluoride varnish beyond the benefit provided by daily use of fluoride toothpaste and consumption of fluoridated water.
How Often Does My Child Need Fluoride Varnish?
According to the American Dental Association, fluoride varnishes should be applied at least twice a year in order to provide a sustained benefit. For children at high risk of tooth decay, more frequent applications may be recommended. Fortunately, the procedure is quick and simple – your child’s pediatric dentist will simply paint the varnish onto your child’s teeth, and the varnish will set once it comes into contact with saliva.
Book an Appointment for Fluoride Varnish for Your Child
If you are interested in learning more about fluoride treatments for children, call us at (817) 510-6400 or request an appointment with Dr. Lin online. At Hurst Pediatric Dentistry, we can work with you and your child to determine how often your child should receive professional fluoride treatments, taking into account factors such as your child’s oral health status, risk of cavities and overall exposure to systemic and topical fluorides.
Dr. Lin is a board-certified pediatric dentist and the owner of Hurst Pediatric Dentistry. He provides preventative dental services to children from Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Ft. Worth, Colleyville, Keller, North Richland Hills and the surrounding area.