Help to prevent tooth decay is available to kids from a fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a mineral that occurs in food and water. The tooth’s enamel loses and adds minerals every day by two processes which are demineralization and remineralization.
Demineralization happens when minerals are lost from the enamel layer of the tooth when acids from plaque and sugars in the mouth attack the enamel. The minerals are redeposited to the enamel layer from food and water that are had by minerals like fluoride calcium and phosphate. Excessive demineralization without sufficient remineralization to repair the layer of the enamel can lead to tooth decay.
Fluoride can help to prevent tooth decay by making it more resistant to acid attacks from the bacteria in plaque and the sugars in the mouth. It can also reverse early decay. Children below the age of six find fluoride treatments beneficial because it becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth and makes it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride can also disrupt the production of acid in teeth that have already erupted both in children and adults because it helps to speed up the remineralization. Therefore a fluoride treatment for kids is essential to prevent them from developing tooth decay.
Children can get the fluoride they need from foods and water as mentioned earlier. They can also obtain fluoride from toothpaste and mouth rinses that are fluoridated. Over-the-counter mouth rinses contain lower concentrations of fluoride but products with higher concentrations can also be purchased with the prescription from a doctor.
Dentists can also accomplish the fluoride process in their offices by applying the mineral to the teeth as a varnish, gel, or foam. These treatments are more concentrated than the fluoride found in toothpaste and mouth rinses. The varnish is painted on the teeth and the foam is filled into a mouthguard which is applied to the teeth for approximately 1 to 4 minutes. Gels can also be painted or applied to the teeth via a mouthguard.
Fluoride supplements can also be purchased as liquids or tablets but must be prescribed by your dentist, family doctor or pediatrician.
Fluoride treatments are most essential for children and infants between the ages of six months and 16 years. This is the time frame when the primary and permanent teeth begin to erupt. Adults can also benefit from fluoride treatments and new research suggests that topical fluoride from in-office treatments, toothpaste, and mouth rinses are just as effective in fighting tooth decay and strengthening developing teeth.
Additionally, some people with certain conditions may be at higher risk of tooth decay and would, therefore, find it beneficial to get additional fluoride treatment from their dentist. People with conditions of a dry mouth may be prone to tooth decay because the lack of saliva makes it difficult for food particles to be washed away and the acids to be neutralized. People with periodontitis are exposing more of their tooth and tooth roots to bacteria and therefore increasing the chances of developing tooth decay. People with a history of frequent cavities and restorations in their mouths can also benefit from additional fluoride treatments.
When used as directed by the dentist or family doctor fluoride is considered safe and effective but can also be hazardous at high doses. Therefore it is important for parents to carefully supervise their children’s use of products containing fluoride and to keep such products out of the reach of children until the age of six.
Excess fluoride can cause defects in the enamel of the tooth ranging from barely noticeable white specks to crown discoloration. These defects can be observed in children younger than six years and the problem occurs when the teeth are just forming. The staining of the tooth cannot be removed with proper oral hygiene but your dentist may lighten or remove them with professional-strength abrasives or bleaching treatments.
It must be borne in mind that it is difficult to reach hazardous levels considering the low levels of fluoride contained in home-based fluoride products. However, if you have any concerns or questions about the amount of fluoride you or your child could be receiving you should discuss it with your child’s dentist, pediatrician, or family doctor.
The American Dental Association has recommended that the earlier children are exposed to fluoride the better it will be for them to prevent tooth decay in their mouths. Therefore it is suggested that parents visit Kids First Dental in Greenwood, SC, and inquire about fluoride treatments needed by their children.