Your child brushes twice a day, flosses regularly, and visits the dentist every six months. But did you know that applying fluoride – a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay – also helps keep teeth healthy and strong?
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface.
Fluoride comes in two varieties, systemic and topical:
- Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply. While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities.
- Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent caries (cavities) on teeth present in the mouth. It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride applications. Professional application of topical fluoride foam or varnish is also a valuable tool in cavity prevention.
Receiving a fluoride treatment from your dentist
A fluoride treatment in the dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. Fluoride varnish temporarily adheres to the tooth, so after it is applied, patients can eat and drink immediately! They should wait 4-6 hours before brushing or flossing and avoid very warm and very crunchy foods to maximize the benefits.
Depending on your child’s oral health, your doctor may recommend a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe at-home fluoride products such as special toothpastes, gels, or antibacterial rinses.
How to choose the right fluoride treatment
When choosing an at-home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined and approved by the ADA based on safety and effectiveness.