Maintaining your child’s oral health is sometimes much easier said than done, especially when they are being quite resistant to dental hygiene practices. Still, keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy is an essential endeavor. Luckily, your child’s pediatric dentist has a secret weapon to help you help your child. This secret weapon is known as fluoride.
Fluoride has been safely and effectively used in dentistry and dental products such as mouthwash and toothpaste for the last 70 years. It is a mineral derived from fluorine, which is naturally occurring in the earth’s crust and is found in soil, rocks, and water. When your child visits their dentist for a teeth cleaning, the final step is to apply fluoride varnish to the surface of their teeth. Here are some of the many benefits your child gets from using fluoride varnish:
Strengthens Tooth Enamel
Tooth enamel is primarily composed of minerals such as calcium and phosphate. When bacteria attack the enamel, a process called demineralization occurs that breaks down the calcium and phosphate, eventually leading to a cavity. Fluoride helps the body to absorb more calcium and phosphate, which allows the tooth enamel to be stronger. This means that the tooth is more resistant to decay. Although fluoride cannot prevent all cavities from forming, it can slow down the rate at which they form, making them easier to treat.
Maintains Primary Teeth
Although your child’s primary teeth will naturally fall out, it is important that they remain in place until they are naturally lost. Unfortunately, primary teeth that are lost too soon can cause a range of future problems that can affect the incoming permanent teeth. This is because primary teeth act as placeholders for permanent teeth. When primary teeth are lost too soon, the space reserved for the incoming permanent tooth becomes compromised. By decreasing the risk of tooth decay and slowing its progression, fluoride also helps to preserve your child’s primary teeth until they can naturally be lost.
Safe for Children
Recently, there has been some controversy as to whether or not fluoride is truly safe for children. However, a variety of medical and health organizations have conducted independent studies that conclude fluoride has a multitude of oral health benefits and only a few minor drawbacks. It is also important to note that 75% of your child’s total fluoride intake comes from drinking water, juice, and soft drinks. Only a small percentage actually comes from fluoride varnish and toothpaste. In the rare case that your child is getting too much fluoride, white specks or brown stains on the teeth can form.
Saves You Money
Dental care for your child can be expensive, especially if you need to pay for more extensive dental procedures and restorations. Since fluoride varnish helps to strengthen your child’s tooth enamel, it works to reduce the risk of decay and slow the amount of damage done in cases where decay does develop. This ultimately means that your child is less likely to require extensive restorative procedures and you are less likely to need to pay for them.