If you’re a parent, you have no doubt heard about the benefits of fluoride for children’s teeth. It is, in fact, an excellent way to strengthen the enamel on young teeth and help to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that shows up in both water and food. Unfortunately, the amount of fluoride that is normally found in our food and drink is seldom adequate enough to make a difference as far as oral health is concerned. That’s why so many communities have elected to add fluoride to their municipal water supplies, why fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes are so readily available, and why dentists offer fluoride treatments to their patients.
While it’s true that almost everyone can benefit from a little extra fluoride, as a parent it’s difficult to know whether or not your child needs additional fluoride treatments. If your tap water has added fluoride in it, that may be enough to give your kids an added dose of protection against tooth decay. If not, you may choose to buy children’s toothpaste and/or mouth rinses that contain fluoride. And if your child would benefit from even more fluoride, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments administered in the dentist’s office.
Although there is a wide variety of toothpastes and rinses with fluoride that are available over-the counter, there are some advantages to choosing a fluoride treatment provided by your dentist. The fluoride that your dentist administers would be at a much higher concentration than any product you could purchase at a grocery store or pharmacy, which means it would generally be much more effective. The process involved in getting a fluoride treatment at the dentist’s office normally takes only a few minutes. Your dentist may either brush the fluoride solution directly on the teeth, place it in a tray that the patient holds inside their mouth for a few minutes, or provides a fluoride rinse that the patient can swish around inside their mouth and leave it there for a short period of time. After the treatment, your child shouldn’t drink or eat for about 30 minutes while his or her teeth absorb the fluoride solution. That’s it! This simple process is typically repeated every 3, 6 or 12 months, depending on the needs of your child.
To find out more about the importance of fluoride, and to decide what would be the right choice for your family, talk to your dentist.