What is Fluoride?

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that dentists apply to your teeth in order to prevent tooth decay. Topical fluoride has a wide range of benefits for your child, including:

  • Strengthens the teeth already in the mouth
  • Makes the enamel of the teeth harder to prevent cavities
  • Can even remineralize spots of early cavities.

While fluoride is commonly associated with things like toothpastes and mouthwashes, small amounts of fluoride are actually added to community drinking water since it has been found to be an effective agent for preventing cavities! This way, fluoride is introduced in small amounts to your child's teeth to keep them strong and protected.

Is Fluoride Safe?

Although the safety of fluoride is sometimes questioned for what some thought were potential health risks, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has deemed fluoride safe and recommended for supervised use. Overall fluoride has not been associated with any major health conditions when used following researched guidelines, so it is completely safe to use on your little ones!

The Types of Fluoride Treatment Available at Our Office

At your child’s dental visit, I will usually recommend one of two types of topical fluoride for routine visits. There is also a third type of fluoride application for special cases. We offer a range of flavors of fluoride available in order to make your child's experience as great and flavorful as it can be! Some of the flavors we have in our office are strawberry, mint, blue raspberry, and marshmallow!

  • Fluoride varnish is a sticky substance that is recommended for younger children since it is quick and easy to apply. With varnish, children can eat and drink right away after their appointment, and do not have to brush their teeth for 24 hours.
  • Fluoride gel is applied with a tray or swab, and is recommended for older children who can tolerate waiting for the fluoride to sit on their teeth. With this type of fluoride, children should wait 30 minutes after the application to eat and drink, and can brush the night of their appointment.
  • Silver diamine fluoride, or SDF, is a special type of fluoride that is used for treating early development of cavities. SDF can be used as an alternative to treatments like fillings in some cases because of its antibacterial properties. However, SDF does stain the teeth black permanently at the location of the cavity.

How Often Should My Child Be Receiving Fluoride Treatment?

Although the frequency of fluoride application can sometimes vary depending on things like risk for cavities or insurance coverage, the AAPD recommends professional application of fluoride one to two times per year. Along with professional application, the AAPD recommends using fluoride toothpaste to further facilitate the maintenance of strong, healthy teeth.

Guide for Home Use of Fluoride Products

According to the AAPD, children starting around age three to age six can use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. If your child is under age three, consult with your dentist before using a small smear or rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. You can also use a small washcloth to wipe the excess if you’re concerned about them swallowing it. Children are recommended to brush their teeth twice per day with fluoride toothpaste under adult supervision.

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