Should You Opt-In or Out of Fluoride Treatments?

You have probably heard that fluoride is beneficial to building strong teeth and preventing cavities, but you may not understand how it works or when to use it. Within this article, we’ll explore the benefits of fluoride and how to use it to improve your family’s oral health.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride treatments for children

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that supports healthy tooth enamel and helps fight the bacteria that causes decay and gum disease. Fluoride is found in two forms, topical and systemic. Using both together gives you the best protection for healthy teeth.
Along with good daily oral hygiene, regular dental visits, regular brushing, and flossing, fluoride helps prevent cavities and can repair the enamel in the very early stages of disease. However, it is important to note, it cannot remove cavities. The two forms of fluoride are:

  • Topical Fluorides – Topical fluorides are found in fluoride toothpastes, mouthwashes, and in the fluoride treatments applied in the dentist office. In-office fluoride treatments help protect the dental health of children and adults. Many insurance programs stop paying for fluoride treatments during the teenage years, but for good preventative care, treatments should continue into adulthood.
  • Systemic Fluorides – Systemic fluorides are swallowed, usually in the form of fluoridated water or fluoride dietary supplements. When systemic and topical fluorides are used together, they give the maximum protection and greatest reduction in dental cavities.

In-Office Professional Fluoride Treatments

In-office fluoride treatments are a stronger concentration than those found in the toothpastes or mouthwashes available at the supermarket or pharmacy. Your in-office fluoride treatment will likely come in one of the following forms:

  • Solution
  • Gel
  • Foam
  • Varnish

Your fluoride treatments will also be applied with a swab, brush, in a tray, or as a rinse. Your dentist will determine how often you should repeat the treatments, depending on your oral health.

At What Age Should You Begin Fluoride Treatments?

Good oral care begins even before your child has their first tooth. Once the first tooth comes in, your dentist may recommend fluoride varnish treatments two to four times a year alongside brushing with a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. When the child reaches three years of age, encourage regular brushing with a pea-sized dab of fluoridated toothpaste. The toothpaste should be spit out of the mouth and not swallowed.

Are Fluoride Treatments Safe for Children?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that is required for good health. However, over-dosing with fluoride can be harmful if used in excessive amounts. The amounts used for oral care and fluoride treatments is safe and effective; however, you should always follow the recommendations of your pediatric doctor or dentist, especially for children under six years of age.

Fluoride Treatments from Chicago’s Dental Experts

Westend Dental is an established Chicago dentist office experienced in treating young children safely and effectively with fluoride treatments. Our patient-focused care means that our recommendations vary with each patient depending on how vulnerable they are to dental cavities and gum disease. We carefully consider each patient’s individual needs.

Schedule an appointment with your Lincoln Park dentist at Westend Dental. We will be happy to discuss fluoride safety and precautionary measures for your child and make treatment recommendations.