Does my child really NEED fluoride treatments?

child in dentist chair getting flouride

You’d do anything to keep them smiling — and that means taking care of the smile itself! Next time your child is seeing the dentist, you may be asked if you’d like to have a topical fluoride treatment applied to your child’s teeth. With fluoride in toothpaste and most municipal water supplies, is a fluoride treatment at the dentist really necessary for your child?

What is a fluoride treatment? 

A professional fluoride treatment applies high-concentration fluoride to the surface of your child’s teeth. This is typically done after a dental cleaning has removed any tartar, plaque, and debris that could stand in the way of effective absorption. The fluoride treatment is then applied to the teeth using either a gel that is painted on, a concentrated mouthwash, or varnish.

The process of applying the fluoride itself only takes a couple of minutes. Your child will be asked to refrain from drinking or eating for 30 minutes after the treatment to give the fluoride time to soak into the surface of the teeth.

How does fluoride work? 

Fluoride is a natural mineral that’s been used to strengthen tooth enamel for decades, and it has become a critical part of overall oral care. A large study has shown that children who receive regular fluoride treatments are 43% less likely to get cavities.

When used in toothpaste, drinking water, or as part of a topical fluoride treatment from your dentist, fluoride binds to the calcium and phosphate on the surface of the tooth enamel to produce a third material called fluorapatite. Fluorapatite is stronger than regular tooth enamel and prevents bacteria from forming cavities in the teeth.

Who needs professional fluoride treatment? 

While anyone can benefit from professional fluoride treatments, some people need them more than others. People who get the most benefit from professional fluoride treatments include:

  • Children – Children are still learning to properly take care of their teeth, which leaves a larger margin for error that can allow cavities to creep in. Fluoride treatments can help give your child the quarterback they need to win the game against cavities while they’re still learning to properly care for their teeth.
  • People with well water – Well water can be delicious, but it lacks the added fluoride that most municipalities add to their water supply. People with fluoride in their water are about 50% less likely to get cavities than people on well water. Fluoride treatments can help close that gap.
  • People with dry mouth – Medications, medical conditions and lifestyle choices can all lead to dry mouth. Saliva is important to keeping tooth strong because it constantly bathes the teeth in calcium and phosphate, helping to strengthen the enamel. People who consistently suffer from dry mouth can benefit from the extra dose of strength that fluoride treatments provide.

Answer: Yes, your child can benefit from professional fluoride treatments! 

When it comes to keeping your child’s smile healthy and gorgeous for a lifetime, fluoride treatments provide an extra layer of protection against decay. Ask your dentist about fluoride treatments at your next dentist appointment to help keep your child smiling bright.