Fluoride can be described as the ionic fluorine form. Fluoride is found all around us. It is naturally present in the soil, water, as well as air. It has been demonstrated that fluoride can strengthen the teeth and reduce the likelihood of cavities in children.
Fluoride can be administered topically or systemically to the teeth of children.
These fluorides are those that are swallowed. They mainly consist of beverages and foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture gives data on fluoride levels in foods and drinks.
Topical fluorides apply directly to the tooth. You can apply fluoride toothpaste or gels to your teeth. Professionally applied topical fluorides include gels and gels with higher strength fluoride, fluoride varnishes, or silver diamine fluoride. Silver diamine fluoride is applied to the teeth to stop decay. It’s not used to prevent future cavities, as with other fluoride treatments. While it is not addressed in this post, you can find out more about Silver Diamine Fluoride.
Some bacteria, which eat sugars and make acid in our mouths, are a problem. When our teeth come in contact with acidic environments, they begin to lose minerals. This is called desineralization. Sometimes, our bodies can help teeth recover minerals lost in a process called Remineralization. The problem is that teeth become less able to regain minerals if they are exposed to more acid attacks. This can lead to permanent damage to the teeth in the form of cavities.
Fluoride can prevent cavities in children by improving the remineralization of teeth and demineralization. Fluoride can be found in salivary glands and dental plaque. Fluoride can be released from dental plaque when bacteria causes acid. This fluoride, as well as the fluoride found in our saliva, is used, together with other minerals, to repair the enamel layer (hard outer layer) on children’s smiles. The re-mineralized, more fluoride-rich enamel is stronger against acid and so more resistant to tooth decay.
Like other minerals, fluoride can have beneficial effects in low doses. However, it can also cause health problems if taken in excessive amounts. The CDC American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry American Dental Association state that fluoride is safe for children if it’s used correctly.
Fluoride can lead to fluorosis when ingested. Fluorosis is a form of enamel damage that can, depending on its severity, range from barely noticeable white marks on a child’s teeth to stained pits. Fluorosis can occur when children consume excessive amounts of fluoride.
Fluoride varnish does not contain as much fluoride as fluoridated toothpaste and over-the-counter toothpaste. But, fluoride varnish’s use is associated with a significantly lower rate of fluorosis. According to the CDC children under 6 are more at risk for fluorosis if their teeth are brushed with too much fluoride toothpaste. There are no published studies that indicate professional-applied fluoride varnish to be a risk factor for fluorosis. The CDC explains that proper technique can reduce the chance that a patient will swallow varnish. It also limits the amount of fluoride ingested as the varnish wears off over many hours.
Parents can help prevent toothpaste-related fluorosis by closely monitoring their children’s toothpaste use and ensuring that they do not exceed the recommended dosage.
Fluoride varnish treatments can be helpful even if your child does not drink fluoridated water or uses fluoride toothpaste. Professionally applied fluoride varnish can be used to complement fluoride treatments rather than as a substitute.
Fluoride varnish provides better protection for your child’s teeth than fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated water. Fluoride varnish can be used as a complementary source for children who are at greater risk of getting cavities. This is why the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Dental Association both recommend professional fluoride treatments.
However, the American Dental Association believes that fluoride varnish application can provide additional benefits beyond those provided by daily fluoride toothpaste use and fluoridated drinking water may be of benefit to children who are at lower risk of developing cavities.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), fluoride varnishes must be applied at a minimum twice per year to maintain their benefits. More frequent application may be necessary for children at high risk of tooth loss. This procedure is very simple. Your child’s pediatric dental will simply apply the varnish to your child’s teeth. Once the saliva touches the varnish, it will set.