Healthy teeth and gums are not just important for adults but kids too. Though your child’s baby teeth are eventually replaced by their permanent teeth, they are equally important. Did you know that the ideal time to take your child for a dental visit is when their first tooth erupts? This helps your dentist evaluate your child’s oral health and detect tooth decay early. Your dentist may also advise a topical fluoride treatment for your child to protect their teeth from cavities. Here’s what you need to know about fluoride treatment in children!
What Is Fluoride and What does it Do?
Fluoride is a mineral known to strengthen the outermost layer of the teeth (called the enamel) and prevent tooth decay. Due to this benefit of fluorides, most countries worldwide ensure fluoridated drinking water supply to ensure everyone gets their daily systemic requirement of fluorides. Apart from tooth decay, fluoride also reduces the harmful effects of plaque and helps stop and reverse early tooth decay.
Besides water and nutritional supplements, fluorides may be applied directly to teeth as toothpaste, varnish, gel, foam or mouth rinse. Mouth rinses contain a lower concentration.
on of fluoride, and so these are available over-the-counter at your nearest pharmacy. However, gels, foam, and varnishes applied topically by the dentist are more effective when it comes to children. These forms of fluoride also contain a greater concentration of the mineral.
When Do Children Need Topical Fluoride Application?
Fluoride application is recommended for children from six months to 16 years. They are effective on primary teeth, permanent teeth and when your child has both sets of teeth. Topical fluoride applications are recommended in children who are more prone to tooth decay. Apart from this, other indications for topical fluoride application in children include:
- Dry mouth conditions: Saliva in the mouth cleanses your teeth of all the food debris and prevents bacterial accumulation and subsequent tooth decay and gum disease. Children with a dry mouth condition (or xerostomia) have an increased risk of developing cavities.
- When there isn’t enough fluoride in the drinking water
- When a child has a high caries index (already a large number of decayed teeth)
- In children with rampant tooth decay
- Crowding of teeth
- Children with special health care needs
How is a Topical Fluoride Application Procedure Done?
The paediatric dentist will evaluate your child’s oral health and determine the suitable form of fluoride formulation. Topical fluoride applications must be repeated every three to six months, based on the child’s risk for tooth decay.
Steps in typical professional fluoride application include:
- Cleaning and polishing teeth to remove any food debris, plaque or calculus before the fluoride application begins.
- The teeth are dried using gauze or cotton pads. These may be placed between the lips and the teeth to keep your child’s teeth dry during the procedure.
For fluoride varnish application:
- The varnish is applied in a thin layer on the dried teeth using an applicator brush.
- Varnish application is usually started from the back teeth. It is normal to have saliva contamination post-application.
- Your child can eat and drink right after the procedure. However, avoid brushing your child’s teeth for four to six hours after varnish application.
For topical fluoride gel or foam:
- The child’s teeth are cleaned and dried.
- The child is asked to sit in a slightly inclined position with their mouth wide to enable the dentist to select the right size of trays.
- An appropriate quantity of gel or foam is loaded on the upper and lower trays and placed on the upper and lower teeth, respectively.
- The child is asked to bite on the trays for some time.
- The dentist will place a saliva ejector near the back teeth that helps remove the accumulated saliva, making the procedure comfortable for your child.
- Once the procedure is done, the dentist will remove the trays and ask them to spit out any remaining foam or gel.
After gel and foam fluoride application, your child must not eat, drink or rinse for 30 minutes, following which they can rinse their mouth with water.v
Is Fluoride Safe For Your Child?
While fluoride is safe for consumption in drinking water and topical application on your child’s teeth, getting an excess of it can cause a condition called dental fluorosis. This condition is characterised by white, yellow or brown spots on teeth, making them brittle and more prone to decay. If this happens in kids below eight years of age, it indicates too much fluoride in their teeth during development. If you notice any signs of fluorosis in your child’s teeth, visit a paediatric dentist immediately.
Your child’s teeth are precious. Simple, easy steps like regular brushing, drinking fluoridated water, routine dental visits and topical fluoride treatments can protect their pearly whites for a lifetime. If you have any queries about your child’s dental health, visit our expert paediatric dentists at Shams Dental– Jumeirah, Marina and Al Warqa, today!