Should My Child Use Dental Fluoride?

This blog post provides a summary overview of the research regarding topical fluoride treatments. It explains what topical fluoride treatments are, the benefits and risks of this treatment, and how it can be difficult to make an educated decision. The author’s conclusion is that the risk associated with topical fluoride treatments should be weighed against the potential benefits.

When deciding whether or not you want to use topical fluoride products on your child’s teeth, it is important to consider the alternatives. Parents should be aware that there are many other things you can do to maintain good dental health.

Topical fluorides help prevent cavities on teeth by preventing plaque from building up on teeth. For the dental professional like the people over at Dental Avenu in Pinecrest, using topical fluoride is relatively easy because they do not have to expose patients to fluoride if they don’t want to. For parents, it can be difficult because the risk of side effects are unknown. It is a gamble whether getting the treatment or allowing cavities to develop. But for some children aged eight and under. The benefits of topical fluoride treatments will likely outweigh the risks.

Topical fluorides are similar to professional mouth rinses, but in a gel form instead of a liquid. Topical fluorides must have a concentration of 1,000 parts per million or more to be effectual. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS) recommends using topical fluorides for children ages four and under who have cavities that are still forming. It also suggests children age four, but younger than age eight if they have a history of cavities.

If the cavities are already fully formed, then the US DHHS recommends using fluoride treatments, even though the risk of side effects is greater. It also suggests if a child’s teeth are in good condition and there should not be cavities developing in young adulthood. Surgeries or other procedures should be performed before topical fluoride treatment is started to prevent dental fluorosis (staining of tooth enamel).

Topical fluorides include a variety of different gels, liquids, and varnish. The type of fluoride topically used depends on the child’s patient history. For example, if a child has a history of anterior tooth decay (decay at the front) then they should use a fluoride varnish that contains fluoride and is applied to the tooth in a varnish form. If a child has posterior tooth decay (decay at the back), then they should use the acidulated phosphate fissure sealant. If a child develops “white  spots” on their teeth after using topical fluoride, it is usually the result of the use of a topical fluoride treatment that contains stannous fluoride. The “white spots” can be removed by a dental professional.

Topical fluorides can be used in combination with mouth rinses to make cavities shrink or disappear completely. But topical fluorides are not as effective when used alone

The National Research Council (US DHHS 2002) compiled a systematic review on the use of topical fluoride versus professional dental care to prevent caries. This report states that fluorides are effective when used to treat cavities with little or no dental plaque build-up. The report notes that there are very few studies demonstrating how well fluoride treatments work in children under age six. It also notes that some children have an increased sensitivity to fluoride and others may suffer from very serious effects from topical fluoride. It recommends using professional dental care in addition to topical fluorides to prevent cavities. In other words, the report recommends using both professional dental care and topical fluoride treatments when a child has cavities that are not yet fully formed, but if they are fully formed, then it suggests only using professional dental care.

Both topical and professional dental care are effective in preventing cavities when used as part of an oral health maintenance program. Topical fluoride treatments are generally considered safe, but there are many ways you can maintain your child’s dental health without relying on fluoride products.

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