Does Your Child Need Fluoride Treatment?
The importance of fluoride for maintaining healthy teeth has been well-documented. After all, fluoride is added to toothpaste and various other oral hygiene products. This can lead to many parents wondering if their child is actually getting enough fluoride to protect their smile. The children's dental care specialists at your local pediatric dental clinic can shed some light on the situation.
The need for supplemental fluoride is often identified during a regular dental checkup. Your child may be a candidate for fluoride treatment if:
- They have already developed a cavity (or cavities), indicating a need for the extra protection provided by fluoride.
- A routine examination discovers the early sign of enamel erosion — when your child's protective dental enamel has corroded, meaning that a cavity is likely to develop.
But how can fluoride actually help with these problems?
Fortifying Dental Enamel
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that can fortify dental enamel. Lost dental enamel cannot be regrown, although low-level enamel erosion (where the enamel has thinned while remaining intact) can be reversed with fluoride therapy, in a process known as remineralization. Even when enamel erosion has already progressed, fluoride therapy can help to bolster dental enamel to prevent the recurrence of cavities.
Fluoride Therapy for Children
Fluoride therapy for children is intended to be as straightforward as possible. Your child's dentist will simply paint a thin layer of fluoride varnish onto their teeth. You will be advised to avoid cleaning your child's teeth or rinsing their mouth for several hours (or even overnight). This allows the varnish to properly dry and reach its full effectiveness. The varnish will slowly wear away over the coming months and is reapplied at each subsequent checkup (as needed).
When Fluoride Isn't Recommended
Fluoride therapy won't necessarily be recommended for all young patients. The absence of existing cavities and enamel erosion can indicate that your child already receives an adequate amount of fluoride, while also maintaining a high standard of oral hygiene. Your water supply may be fluoridated, and/or your child may consume a sufficient amount of dietary fluoride. When coupled with a high standard of oral hygiene, these other means of receiving fluoride can mean that supplemental fluoride is unnecessary, as excessive fluoride may have an adverse effect on your child's teeth.
Remember that it's quite common for fluoride therapy to be recommended for children. It's not a serious development, although your child's dentist will discuss any necessary changes to prevent further deterioration to your child's dental enamel.