The teeth of a child go through a lot in the first few years of life. Up until about age 12, the teeth will experience constant changes. During this period of infancy to adulthood, the teeth, gums and jawbone are all actively developing. This is why it is recommended parents take their child to see the dentist before the first tooth even comes in.
When teeth do start to come in, it is imperative to protect them from tooth decay at all cost. Although baby (also known as primary) teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced by an adult set, you still want to protect these first teeth. If baby teeth are damaged or decayed, this puts the gums at risk. Adult teeth may not come in correctly if these first teeth are not given enough attention.
Fluoride treatments are an effective way to protect teeth, especially at this fragile time when your child's teeth are more susceptible to cavities.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that fights cavities by strengthening enamel. It does so by adding bulk to the enamel, a protective layer over the teeth that is primarily composed of minerals. Although fluoride is found in most of the water supply across the nation, it only does so in small amounts.
Fluoride generally has the biggest effect on young children whose adult teeth are just starting to come in, as it fortifies the outer enamel, inner tooth structure, and supports healthy jawbone density.
What are fluoride treatments?
A good oral hygiene routine is the first defense against tooth decay. To ensure lifelong healthy teeth, you may consider other options that will increase enamel defense. This is where fluoride treatments come in. Fluoride treatments contain the mineral in larger quantity. Ingesting the trace amounts of fluoride found in water is often not enough to protect teeth to the greatest extent. Since ingested fluoride has to go through the digestive system and then into the bloodstream, it is not as effective as a topical treatment applied directly to the teeth.
When fluoride directly comes in contact with the tooth surface, it is better absorbed by the enamel. These treatments are very mild, and only rarely cause temporary side effects of nausea and headache if accidentally swallowed.
However, know that your dentist will take every precaution, such as using mouth trays to catch excess solution, to make sure your child does not feel these effects. Most fluoride procedures go off without a hitch. Treatment can be applied by gel, varnish or foam after a dental cleaning.
How can my child benefit from fluoride treatments?
The benefits far outweigh the risk of temporary side effects. You can expect to see a noticeable reduction in tooth decay in your child compared to those who did not receive treatment in younger years. Secondary teeth are more likely to grow in straight and healthy if fluoride is applied to baby teeth. If applied to newly emerged adult teeth, the solution helps enamel to remain strong and defend the tissue underneath.
The bottom line
Fluoride treatments are a great gift for your child in the long run. They can be performed multiple times throughout the year, usually following a bi-yearly dental cleaning. Call today to discuss which type of fluoride treatment is right for your child.
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