If you have purchased toothpaste, taken your children to the dentist, or read about your water supply, you have likely heard the term fluoride. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children receive fluoride to help decrease the risk of tooth decay and cavities. But how often do your children need fluoride treatment?
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral known for its ability to prevent tooth decay. It can be applied topically to the teeth, consumed as a supplement, or is sometimes added to the water supply. It helps in fortifying tooth enamel and decreases the impact of dental plaque. It also boosts overall resilience against decay, enhancing the remineralization process that repairs the initial stages of tooth decay.
The Recommended Frequency of Fluoride Treatment
Your child's dentist will typically apply a topical fluoride treatment (in the form of a varnish, gel, or foam) to their teeth about every three to six months after they have their first tooth. Dental professionals also recommend that when your child gets their first tooth, begin brushing their teeth at least twice a day with a minimal amount of fluoride toothpaste (only about the size of a grain of rice). Once your child reaches the age of three, you can increase to a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
There are also fluoride rinses available on the market without a prescription. However, dental professionals discourage their use in children under six years of age.
What is Systemic Fluoride?
Systemic fluoride includes fluoride found in:
- Public and private water supplies
- Prescription supplements
- Teas, soft drinks, and some bottled water
After systemic fluoride is ingested, it's absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and dispersed throughout the body via the blood supply. It also shows up in the mouth due to saliva, where it can continuously bathe the teeth in fluoride.
What are the Dental Benefits of Fluoride?
When the bacteria in your mouth metabolize sugars and carbohydrates, they generate acids that erode the minerals naturally present in tooth enamel— a process known as demineralization. Demineralization weakens the enamel, rendering your teeth susceptible to cavity-causing bacteria.
Fluoride offers notable benefits to oral health as it aids in:
- Rebuilding weakened tooth enamel: Fluoride supports remineralization, reinforcing weakened tooth enamel.
- Slowing mineral loss from tooth enamel: Fluoride hinders the gradual depletion of minerals from tooth enamel.
- Reversing initial tooth decay signs: Fluoride can counteract early indications of tooth decay.
- Preventing harmful oral bacteria growth: Fluoride inhibits the proliferation of detrimental oral bacteria.
Fluoride's role in re-mineralizing tooth enamel not only guards against cavities but can also potentially reverse the initial stages of tooth decay.
Questions about Fluoride Treatment or Your Child's Dental Health? Contact Dream Smiles Pediatric Dentistry of Gaithersburg
At Dream Smiles Pediatric Dentistry of Gaithersburg, we know you have many questions about your child's dental health, including those related to fluoride treatments. We are here to address your questions and concerns clearly and promptly. Call us at 301-327-1003 or contact us online to request an appointment to learn more about the fluoride treatments and the treatment frequencies we recommend.