Fluoride is a natural mineral that aids in the prevention of tooth decay. It is a constant battle against plaque, bacteria and sugars in the mouth that cause decay. Fluoride is applied to the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay.
Fluoride intake is important during a child’s dental development. The consumption of fluoride during tooth development allows the mineral to become incorporated with the growth of the primary and permanent teeth. This helps make the teeth more acid resistant resulting in fewer cavities.
It is important to have the dentist prescribe the proper amount of fluoride supplement based on the child’s age and weight while considering other sources of fluoride. Excess fluoride ingestion by a child may result in permanent marks on the teeth. This is termed Fluorosis. This is also why it is so important with young children, due to their tendency to swallow toothpaste, that only a very small amount be placed on the toothbrush until they learn how to spit out the excess.
In most cases, fluoride varnish is applied to specific teeth in the mouth that are sensitive due to extensive demineralization. In the case of adolescents, we will brush the fluoride varnish on all teeth unless it is against the wishes of the parent/guardian. This typically occurs up to the age of eighteen.
Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay. We also offer a take-home treatment that consists of the patient wearing custom made trays that are worn for a specific amount of time each day. This type of treatment occurs when a patient experiences extreme issues with decay. Certain conditions, such as dry mouth or a history of excessive cavities, may warrant the need to use this take-home fluoride treatment.
Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.