Fluoride treatments are a great way to help your child's teeth stay healthy and strong. In fact, it's been shown that fluoride treatments can prevent more than 90% of cavities from forming in children.
Fluoride treatments also have other benefits, including strengthening tooth enamel and reducing sensitivity. However, not all kids need fluoride treatments—and there are some factors to consider when weighing your options for treatment.
What are fluoride treatments?
Fluoride treatments are a topical application of fluoride to the teeth. Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay. It can be found in water, certain foods and beverages, and toothpaste.
A dentist or hygienist applies fluoride treatments directly onto the teeth to strengthen surface enamel and reduce cavities. A fluoride varnish, gel, or foam is used to coat all surfaces of each tooth, including deep grooves where bacteria can form.
Why do kids need fluoride treatments?
Teeth are made of enamel, which is made of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and fluoride. When teeth have too little fluoride or if sugary foods are consumed, bacteria can feed on leftover food particles and sugars in the mouth, causing plaque to build up. The plaque causes the formation of acids that break down enamel over time, resulting in tooth decay and cavities.
In addition to fluoride treatments, having your child's teeth cleaned regularly is essential so any problems can be identified before they become serious.
Does your child need fluoride treatment?
You should consider a couple of factors before deciding whether your child needs a fluoride treatment. These include:
- Your child's risk of cavities. If your child has a high or moderate risk of cavities, fluoride treatment can likely help reduce their chances of developing tooth decay. A fluoride treatment may not be needed if there's a low risk of cavities.
- Your child's age. Most children need fluoride treatments because they're at an age when their teeth haven't fully developed.
How is a fluoride treatment administered?
A dentist or a dental hygienist can administer fluoride treatments, usually by applying a gel to the teeth. The type of treatment depends on age and other factors.
Are there any side effects?
- Some people are allergic to fluoride and shouldn't get treatments.
- Too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis, which is a condition that causes white spots on teeth.
- Fluoride treatments can cause teeth to become discolored or stained.
- Fluoride treatments may make teeth more sensitive.
The Advantages of Fluoride Treatments for Kids
Fluoride treatments can help protect your child's teeth from cavities.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends fluoride treatments for kids six months and older with a risk of developing cavities, such as those who brush less than twice a day or don’t always eat nutritious foods.
The ADA also recommends that parents use fluoride drops when their kids are younger than two years old since it takes longer for an infant's immune system to develop enough to fight off bacteria in the mouth.
Learn More About Fluoride Treatments for Kids
Fluoride treatments are not required, but they can be beneficial. However, they should never be considered a substitute for proper oral hygiene or regular dental checkups and cleanings.
Do you have questions about whether your child should have a fluoride treatment? Contact us to schedule an appointment.