The Importance of Fluoride

By Colleen McCabe, CRNP

You may have heard of the importance of fluoride in protecting your child’s teeth, but did you know treatments should start as early as your child’s first tooth? Don’t worry, this does not mean you need to make a dentist appointment at 6 months old. We can apply fluoride right in our office!

Fluoride is one of the most effective ways of preventing cavities in children. It helps protect the teeth from acid, stopping early dental decay. Cavities occur when there is a build up of plaque, which is bacteria, on both your child’s teeth and gums. Plaque has the potential to chip away at the enamel layer of your child’s tooth, which can lead to infection and damage to the nerves and bloody supply in the middle of the tooth.

You may be surprised to know that fluoride is a natural occurring element found in most water sources in nature. Although your child may be receiving fluoride through the tap water they drink, studies show applying the fluoride varnish in the office will only help in preventing tooth decay. The fluoride we provide in the office is safe and easy to apply. The fluoride varnish is individually packaged with a disposable one-time brush. We take the small brush and apply 0.25 mls of fluoride to your child’s teeth. The whole process takes less than one minute. There is no specific taste or color to the varnish. The amount of fluoride we give to your child in the office is very small. Even if your child were to swallow the whole amount of varnish, it will not cause adverse effects. Once your child begins seeing a dentist regularly, we will stop fluoride treatments in the office and your dentist will manage your care.

Although we provide fluoride in the office, it is important to manage your child’s dental care at home on a regular basis. Before your child’s first tooth arrives, you can use a soft rag or gauze and wipe the gums once a day with warm water. At the signs of your child’s first tooth, begin wiping the tooth with a washcloth or a soft brush designed for infants twice a day. A small amount of low fluoride toothpaste (size of a rice grain) is the best option for your infant/toddler who may swallow the toothpaste. Avoid high sugar drinks as much as possible as well as sugary snacks. Remember to always bring up any of your dental questions at your next well visit.

“Baby Teeth.” American Dental Association. Retrieved February 5th, 2019, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-teeth

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