June 28, 2016
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is a key factor in maintaining good oral health. Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by strengthening the enamel on baby and adult teeth before and after they erupt. The ADA states that fluoride use helps to prevent caries and can even repair teeth in the very early, microscopic stages of disease. There are two ways fluoride can be obtained: topically and systemically.
Systemic fluorides are fluorides that are ingested. These types of fluorides are found in most city water sources, fluoride supplements, and toothpaste that our young patients inevitably swallow. It is important to ensure that children under 6 years of age receive no more than a small “freckle” amount of toothpaste on their toothbrush. Children that are 6 years of age and older should only get a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste. Ingesting more than the recommended amount of fluoride can result in fluorosis of the teeth.
Topical fluorides include fluoride that is applied directly to the tooth’s surface. Small amounts of topical fluoride are found in many toothpaste’s, rinses and fluoride treatments applied in our office. The fluoride treatments used in our office are much more concentrated. Studies have shown that children who receive regular in office fluoride treatments once every 6 months have fewer cavities than those who don’t.
Dr. Celeste recommends a topical fluoride treatment once every 6 months for all children with a family history, or personal history of cavities. There are multiple ways to apply these fluoride treatments. There is the traditional foam, or gel in trays, which requires the patient to wait a full thirty minutes before rinsing, eating, or drinking to allow proper absorption of the fluoride. There is also a varnish fluoride treatment that can be painted on your child’s teeth. This treatment is painted on with a soft brush and allows for the patient to eat and drink right away, often making this type of application easier for the patient. Patient’s who are at higher risk for cavities may be recommended to receive fluoride treatments more frequently depending on their current oral health status, as well as additional preventative measures, such as prescription fluoride gel toothpaste.