As a parent, you want your child to be as safe and healthy as possible, and that means choosing the right health care treatments and options. One of the questions parents and caregivers ask our Fuquay Varina family dentist is, “Are fluoride treatments safe for my child?” Rather than just give a simple yes or no, we want to break down exactly what fluoride is, what it does, and if it’s right for your family.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is found in our bones and teeth, and it also occurs naturally in soil, water, rocks, and plants. It’s so prevalent in the earth’s crust and throughout nature, scientists estimate it is the 13th-most abundant element. It can also be synthetically produced and added to municipal water supplies or can be added to dental health products including toothpastes and mouthwashes. Fluoride treatments for kids and adults are made from a safe, synthetically produced fluoride.
What Are the Dental Benefits of Fluoride Treatments for Kids?
Our teeth are covered in enamel which protects the interior of the tooth and keeps them healthy. Because enamel is constantly exposed to acid-producing bacteria, made worse by sugar, sodas, and acidic foods, our enamel is trying to continuously rebuild in a process called re-mineralizing. However, our enamel may not build back up quickly or strong enough to prevent decay and cavities from taking place.
That’s where fluoride comes in. It aids during the re-mineralization process and strengthens the enamel, helping to reduce and prevent tooth decay. While tap water and fluoride toothpastes provide daily support, a fluoride treatment provides deeper protection and can even reverse signs of tooth decay in its earliest stages. Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent health issues affecting children, which is why your dentist will most likely recommend fluoride treatments.
How Do Fluoride Treatments from the Dentist Work?
The intensive treatments children, and sometimes adults, receive at their family dentist are very simple. The fluoride comes in a gel, varnish, or sometimes even a foam, and is applied with a swab, brush, or placed in trays that are inserted over your child’s teeth. The treatment sits for only a few minutes and is rinsed away. It’s painless and easy, and a simple flavoring is added so it tastes good. Plus, they’re supervised to prevent swallowing it.
After the treatment is complete and it’s rinsed away, it’s recommended to avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 30 minutes so nothing hinders absorption.
Are There Risks from Fluoride?
Generally, when used correctly and under care of a dentist, fluoride treatments and toothpastes are very safe, even for young children. The biggest risk is dental fluorsis, a condition causes white spots to form on your teeth and occurs when you ingest excess fluoride while teeth are still forming under your gums. The spots are harmless, painless, and don’t cause any lasting concerns, and they tend to occur in children who ingested fluoride toothpaste while their permanent teeth were forming.
There are claims that fluoride is dangerous, causing reduced IQ scores and causing bone and joint problems. Multiple studies have not found any links and the American Dental Association continues to recommend fluoride as the best way to prevent cavities.
Contact Our Fuquay Varina Family Dentist for Fluoride Treatments for Your Child
If you are concerned about your child’s dental health but want to learn more about fluoride treatments, we can help! We also provide full dental services for your child and the rest of the family, from cleanings to cosmetic dentistry. Schedule an appointment at our family dentist’s office in Fuquay-Varina and we can get your child on the path to healthy teeth. Call 919-552-2431 or request an appointment today.