Are Fluoride Treatments a Good Idea for Children?

Little girl wondering about fluorideHop on to your favorite internet search engine and type in the question “Is fluoride safe?” You’re likely to be bombarded with two types of information: agencies like the CDC and the National Research Council assuring the public that fluoride is indeed safe and well meaning (but often misinformed or under-informed) natural-living blogs insisting that fluoride can lead to everything from neurological impairment to cancer. As a parent, you’re right to be concerned about whether a given treatment might have any adverse effects on your child. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the safety of fluoride and how a fluoride treatment can help your little one enjoy a stronger, healthier smile.

Is Fluoride Safe?

Decades of peer-reviewed research from across the globe (most notably, the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.) have shown that the normal levels of fluoride found in toothpastes and mouthwashes (and nearly all municipal water supplies in the United States) are safe for people of all ages and dramatically reduce the incidence of dental caries (cavities). Water supply fluoridation has not been linked to any serious illnesses. Furthermore, the American Dental Association only endorses dental hygiene products with safe levels of sodium fluoride, so you can feel confident purchasing products that have the ADA Seal of Approval.

How Does Fluoride Work to Prevent Tooth Decay?

When you eat, the acids present in your foods and beverages leach calcium and phosphorus from your tooth enamel. In this weakened state, bacterial plaque can flourish and damage the enamel. Left untreated, damaged enamel caves in, creating cavities. Fluoride repairs and strengthens weakened enamel by bonding with it on a molecular level, making up for lost minerals.

How are Fluoride Treatments Administered to Children?

Your child’s first exposure to fluoride is likely to be in the form of drinking tap water. Once your little one is old enough to brush her teeth without accidentally swallowing toothpaste, dentists recommend switching from a fluoride-free training toothpaste to a regular toothpaste that contains fluoride. In addition, your child’s dentist may recommend supplemental fluoride treatments at your child’s next appointment. Usually, in-office fluoride treatments include:

  • Fluoride paste. After your child’s teeth have been cleaned and the checkup performed, your dentist will gently brush flavored fluoride paste onto your child’s teeth. The paste feels a little sticky and will need to remain on the teeth undisturbed for at least thirty minutes.
  • Chewable fluoride tablets. Some chewable fluoride tablets are available over the counter, but those tablets with a higher concentration of fluoride are only available from your dentist. Children chew these tasty little tablets which impart a healthy dose of fluoride directly to the teeth.

About Your Southlake Dentists

A native Texan, Dr. Gregory Wright opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. Together, he and Dr. Victoria Heron proudly provide exceptional family, general, and cosmetic dental care to families and patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our Southlake children’s dentist office at (817) 481-7999.