Using fluoride to protect teeth

Your child brushes twice a day, flosses regularly, and visits the dentist every six months, but did you know that rinsing with fluoride — a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay — also helps keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong?

Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface.

Fluoride comes in two varieties, systemic and topical:

Fluoride works in two ways.  There is systemic fluoride, which is usually delivered through tap water and is important for developing teeth (not present in the mouth yet).  Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent caries (cavities) on teeth present in the mouth.  It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthrinses, and professional fluoride applications.

Intake of low amounts of fluoride while the teeth are still developing can help prevent future cavities.  However, excessive amount of fluoride could result in irreversible stains on the permanent teeth.  Dr. Ramirez will assess whether your child is receiving appropriate levels of fluoride.  Professional application of topical fluoride foam and varnishes are also a very valuable tool in cavity prevention.

Receiving a fluoride treatment from the dentist

A fluoride treatment in your child’s dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your child’s oral health or the doctor’s recommendation, your child may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. Dr. Ramirez may also prescribe an at-home fluoride product such as a mouthwash, gel, or antibacterial rinse.

How to choose the right fluoride treatment

When choosing an at-home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined by the ADA, and approved based on safety and effectiveness.