Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used to promote healthy teeth for decades. You can find it in most municipal water supplies, many types of toothpaste, and in the fluoride treatment your child receives from their dentist. It provides a variety of benefits that help protect against tooth decay and ensure a healthy smile.
What is fluoride treatment?
During their routine six-month visit, your child will have a thorough teeth cleaning and exam. In addition to these basic steps, it’s also recommended that your child have fluoride treatment. This straightforward and fast procedure provides lasting protection.
Pediatric dentists use a fluoride gel or varnish to carry out this type of treatment. This is at a higher concentration than the fluoride levels found in drinking water and toothpaste, which makes it possible for your child’s teeth to absorb the substance more quickly.
The fluoride is applied using a tray that holds the varnish against your child’s teeth for a few minutes. The dentist then removes the tray and rinses your child’s mouth. It takes about half an hour for the fluoride to fully absorb after being applied. Your child shouldn’t eat or drink during this time, as you don’t want the treatment to go to waste.
Whether your child is old enough to receive fluoride treatment depends on their individual needs. In many cases, dentists don’t start this type of treatment until age six, and the use of fluoride toothpaste is also not recommended until that age. If your child is at a higher risk of cavities, your dentist may recommend limited treatment while they are younger.
How does fluoride treatment help my child?
Fluoride treatment plays a key role in healthy and strong dental enamel. This outer layer of each tooth is the strongest material in the human body. Supporting it is vital to the appearance, function, and health of your child’s smile, and this type of treatment is among the best things you can do for it. Below are the five main benefits of getting this type of treatment for your child.
1. Strengthens Tooth Enamel
Healthy teeth rely on strong enamel to protect the inner layers and provide the integrity to stand up to biting and chewing. Weakened enamel can cause a variety of issues, including increased sensitivity and pain. Fluoride treatment helps keep enamel strong enough to stand up to daily challenges.
When fluoride is absorbed into enamel, it helps lock in minerals like calcium and phosphorus. These make up the structural elements of enamel and are responsible for its strength. By maintaining high levels of these minerals, this treatment keeps your child’s smile strong.
2. Prevents Tooth Decay
Tooth decay occurs when acids from the bacteria in your mouth or acidic drinks remove minerals from your enamel. The enamel then wears away easily during everyday biting and chewing. Fluoride treatment plays a key role in reversing the earliest stage of tooth decay to prevent the development of cavities.
Your enamel undergoes a natural remineralization process where your body replaces missing calcium and phosphorus. However, enamel can wear away too quickly for the body to keep up. Fluoride attracts calcium and phosphorus, drawing them into the enamel to accelerate the remineralization process.
3. Inhibits Acid Attack
Acid, whether from acidic drinks or the bacteria in your mouth, can wear away enamel quickly. When your teeth reabsorb minerals using fluoride, some of that fluoride stays behind. It takes the form of a mineral called fluorapatite, which accompanies the hydroxyapatite and carbonated hydroxyapatite that make up the enamel’s structure.
Fluorapatite is better able to resist acids than the regular minerals in enamel. It can maintain integrity in a more acidic environment, which helps prevent tooth decay even when dealing with high levels of bacteria or acidic drinks.
4. Enhances Enamel Rebuilding
Once enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. This is why patients require treatments such as dental fillings and crowns once tooth decay takes hold. It does not regrow, so preventing enamel loss in the first place is the best course of action.
Fluoride helps your body rebuild weakened enamel before it’s too late. It has a natural affinity for calcium and phosphate, the two key structural elements of enamel. When the early stages of tooth decay remove these minerals, fluoride helps your enamel restore them in time to prevent further damage.
5. Protects Against Stains
Fluoride treatment also helps your child maintain a beautiful smile. Tooth decay can cause discoloration by allowing tooth-staining food and drink to penetrate deeper within the enamel. Fluoride promotes strong, dense enamel that provides a better protective barrier.
Your Pediatric Dentist in Prince Frederick for Preventive Care
Do you want the best in preventive care for your child? We Make Kids Smile is your pediatric dentist in Waldorf and Prince Frederick for regular dental visits, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, and more. Schedule an appointment today to see how we can help ensure your child’s healthy development.