Teaching children to brush their teeth at least twice a day or after meals, along with flossing, installs proper hygiene habits. However, cavities and tooth decay may still develop — even when cutting back on sugary foods or drinking water that contains fluoride.
Using a concentrated fluoride treatment — one that contains a higher level of this mineral when compared to fluoride-enriched toothpaste — may help children at risk by strengthening teeth enamel.
Strong enamel helps harden teeth, making them less susceptible to cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, studies suggest a high-potency formula may help fight current tooth decay, reverse signs of damage, prevent future occurrences and reduce cavities.
Topical fluoride comes in three forms: a foam, gel or varnish. All three variations provide short-term treatment, but they deliver a high dosage of fluoride directly to children’s teeth. A child’s age, along with their dentist’s preference, determines which form a dentist will apply.
During application, a dentist paints the varnish directly onto teeth, while foam gets inserted into a tray, which looks similar to a mouth guard. A dentist may use the gel form like a varnish or foam — either by direct placement onto teeth, or by putting the gel into a tray. Dentists typically prefer gel for younger patients.
All standards of care should align with recommendations from the American Dental Association. The ADA recommends periodic applications in children older than six who show signs of being at high risk for tooth decay.
In general, a session should last no longer than four minutes. A pediatric dentist usually administers the treatment after a professional cleaning.
Some parents are concerned about short-term risks and adverse long-term effects of using high doses of fluoride. However, research studies concluded that only one long-term risk exists — a condition known as fluorosis. While fluorosis does not directly cause harm, it creates a cosmetic issue. High fluoride levels may cause excessive staining of teeth.
For those concerned about excessive staining, the best way to reduce fluorosis is to always follow ADA recommendations. To use the product in its intended manner, and on children that are at least six-years-old.
Parents should be aware that some children may react to fluoride, especially if a patient swallows too much of the mixture. If your child experiences symptoms like vomiting, stomach pain or headache, they may have swallowed too much. Using an isolation method like a dental dam may help protect your child from accidentally ingesting too much solution during treatment.
As long as dentists follow ADA guidelines, topical fluoride treatments offer an effective, safe and cost-effective way to prevent new cavities and reverse early decay. This preserves tooth enamel and helps it stay strong. If children wait to receive help, they may need more costly dental work later in life.
We welcome you to contact us for a consultation or appointment. Additionally, if you require information on how to keep your child’s teeth and gums strong and healthy, our practice is here for you. We can help you decide on the most appropriate fluoride treatment for your child.