How a Fluoride Treatment Can Help Protect Your Children's Teeth

 American Academy of Pediatrics, child's oral health, Fluoride Treatment, Penguin Pediatrics

No one likes to get cavities — or worse, lose a tooth due to decay. If you have children, one of the best things you can do is establish a good oral care routine while your kids are still young so they can start life with strong, healthy teeth. Regular brushing and flossing are a big part of that routine, and so are regular fluoride treatments. In fact, making sure your children get fluoride treatments on a routine basis can go a long way toward reducing their risk of cavities now and in their adult years.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that’s found naturally in soil rocks and water. It’s also found in the air in very small quantities and in some plants that absorb the mineral through their roots. Other foods, like shellfish, also contain fluoride from the water they take in. In oral health, fluoride is important because it bonds with the tooth surface to help prevent cavities from forming.

We get some fluoride from the dental care products we use. Most toothpastes contain some fluoride (always check the label for the ADA seal of approval to be sure) and so do some mouth rinses. Fluoride is also found in some foods and beverages, and it occurs naturally in most water supplies. Some towns and cities add extra fluoride to their water to make sure kids (and adults) get enough to benefit their oral health. (Bottled water usually does not contain fluoride, so if your child drinks a lot of water while out and about, consider investing in a reusable water bottle and filling it from your tap.)

But as important as these “natural” sources are, it still may not be enough to make sure your kids’ teeth stay healthy and free from cavities, especially as they grow. Fluoride treatments provide that extra boost kids’ teeth need to help fight off cavities so they can enjoy healthier teeth during childhood and beyond.

How fluoride works to protect teeth

To understand how fluoride prevents cavities, it’s important to understand what causes cavities in the first place. Your teeth have a hard coating of enamel that works like a shield to keep your teeth healthy. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body — harder than bones. Unlike bones, though, enamel is not a living tissue, so it can’t replenish itself on its own. Enamel is made up of minerals that form hard bonds. Our saliva contains the same minerals as tooth enamel, and normally, our saliva replenishes the minerals on our tooth surfaces, keeping them strong and protected.

However, when we eat (especially foods that are high in starches), foods are broken down by chemicals in saliva, forming acids that attack the hard enamel coating of teeth. These acids break apart the bonds that keep enamel intact, stripping teeth of some of the calcium and phosphate they need to stay strong. And that means teeth are more vulnerable to decay.

To some extent, the minerals in saliva help counteract acid erosion, but depending on your child’s diet, the minerals contained in saliva may not be enough to ward off decay. And that’s where fluoride comes in. Fluoride actually acts with the chemicals and minerals in your child’s saliva, helping to remineralize tooth surfaces and making them much harder and more impenetrable. That means it’s much more difficult for acid erosion to weaken your child’s teeth — and much harder for cavities to form.

The fluoride we get from toothpastes and even from some of the foods we eat provides some of the fluoride kids need to keep tooth decay at bay. But fluoride treatments add an extra layer of protection kids need to avoid cavities. In fact, fluoride treatments are so important for kids’ oral health, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends fluoride treatments every three to six months throughout childhood and adolescence, beginning as soon as your child’s baby teeth emerge.

Protect your child's oral health

At Penguin Pediatrics, we offer fluoride treatments for patients beginning at age six months and all the way through their teen years to help prevent cavities. Learn how fluoride treatments can help your child enjoy a lifetime of better oral health. Book an appointment online today.

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