Good oral hygiene plays an important role in everyone’s health, but did you know that it’s especially crucial for your child’s well-being?
As early as infancy, you should brush your child’s teeth and incorporate fluoride into their oral hygiene routine.
If you’re unsure of what fluoride is and why it’s important, you’re not the only one. Keep reading our article to learn all about the benefits of fluoride, and the importance of fluoride treatments for kids.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural element that’s in many products you consume, such as water, meat, fish, and eggs. It’s important for children’s oral hygiene because it prevents tooth decay, a common disease affecting about 20% of children.
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by protecting the teeth from the acidic attacks that come from plaque bacteria and sugar. It also promotes the remineralization of enamel, making the teeth stronger.
Due to these benefits, fluoride is now in various other products to improve our oral health. We’ve made a list below of these products.
Fluoride In Water
Optimal levels of fluoride are found in tap water in about 60% of homes in the United States. Many sources of well water also contain fluoride.
If you’re unsure of the levels of fluoride in your water system, you can ask the public health department, or go check the water safety reports on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website.
Fluoride In Toothpaste and Rinses
Because of its cavity-fighting properties, fluoride is a common additive in many kinds of toothpaste and mouth rinses. Pediatric dentists recommend parents use fluoride toothpaste to brush their children’s teeth.
For children under the age of three, you should only use the amount of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. Once children are older than three and can spit out their toothpaste, you should start using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Fluoride rinses are recommended for kids that are high-risk for cavities and that are able to rinse and spit without needing adult supervision.
Fluoride rinses are not recommended for children under the age of 6, and you should always check with your dentist before adding one to your child’s oral routine.
Fluoride treatments are done by dentists to help seal teeth with a protective layer of fluoride. This fluoride is usually in the form of a gel or varnish. Even with the use of fluoride toothpaste and tap water, many dentists still encourage parents to bring their children in for fluoride treatments.
Is Fluoride Safe?
Fluoride is safe when used properly and in the right amounts. Even if your child swallows their fluoride toothpaste, as long as you only used the recommended amount they should be okay.
Although it’s safe when in the recommended amount, you should still supervise your children and teach them to spit and rinse while brushing their teeth.
If your child ends up swallowing more than the recommended amount of fluoridated toothpaste, reach out to your pediatrician or dentist. Some children may experience stomach pain or nausea after swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste.
Another negative side effect that could come from fluoride is dental fluorosis.
What Is Dental Fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is a cosmetic issue that happens when a child gets too much fluoride and their teeth are still forming under their gums. It has no negative health effects, but it causes the teeth to have bright patches or streaks.
Most cases of dental fluorosis are mild enough that it’s barely visible and only noticed by dentists. While these bright stains can’t be altered, your dentist may be able to lighten the rest of your teeth to make the color more even.
When Is Fluoride Most Beneficial?
The benefits of fluoride are especially important in babies and children from the ages of 6 months to 16 years. Fluoride consumption during these years can make a significant difference because that’s when primary and permanent teeth come in.
Increased fluoride intake can also be extra beneficial for people with gum disease, dry mouth conditions, history of tooth decay, and any dental work such as crowns, braces, or bridges.
What Are Fluoride Treatments?
A fluoride treatment is the topical application of fluoride varnish done by dentists. While this process may sound intimidating, it’s actually fairly simple and pain-free, so you and your child have nothing to worry about.
When a dentist does a fluoride treatment, they brush the tops and sides of each tooth with fluoride. The fluoride varnish starts off sticky but hardens into a seal once it’s touched with saliva.
Even though this fluoride seal can’t be licked off, patients should avoid eating or drinking anything for half an hour after the treatment.
Who Does Fluoride Treatments?
Fluoride treatments are only done by dentists because of the high concentrated use of fluoride.
While these treatments play an important role in your children’s oral hygiene, adults can benefit from them too. So make sure that when you’re choosing a family dentist, you find out if they offer fluoride treatments for adults too.
When Are Fluoride Treatments Recommended?
The recommendation for how often a child should get a fluoride treatment depends on their level of risk for cavities.
Children who have a normal risk for cavities should get a fluoride treatment every six months. Children with a higher cavity risk are recommended to get more frequent treatments, between every three to six months.
If you’re unsure of how often to bring your child in, ask your dentist what they recommend.
Are Fluoride Treatments Safe?
Fluoride treatments are safe. In fact, because these treatments are being done by a professional and the fluoride hardens, it’s even safer than the fluoride in your toothpaste. The application is quick and easy enough that there aren’t even risks associated with the process itself either.
Stay On Top of Your Family’s Health
Fluoride and fluoride treatments are safe methods of preventing tooth decay and strengthening teeth, especially in infants and children. Tap water, fluoridated toothpaste, and fluoride treatments can make a world of difference in your children’s oral hygiene and overall health.
Hopefully, this guide gave you everything you needed to know about fluoride treatments for kids. Reach out to your family dentist to take the next step in keeping your children’s teeth strong and healthy.
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