Using Fluoride to Protect Your Teeth
Your child brushes her teeth twice a day, flosses regularly and visits the dentist every six months, but did you know that rinsing with fluoride – a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay – also helps keep her teeth healthy and strong?
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating your teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth's surface.
Fluoride comes in two varieties, topical and systemic:
- Topical fluoride is applied directly to the tooth and includes toothpastes and mouth rinses.
- Systemic fluorides are generally only used by your dentist and are not often available for at-home use. Systemic fluoride treatments are generally designed to help protect the oral health of children undergoing dental procedures. Fluoride used in the dentist/orthodontists office is often a much stronger concentration than in toothpaste or mouthwash, but is available at some drug stores or a pharmacy (ask your dentist before purchasing professional strength fluoride).
Receiving a Fluoride Treatment from Your Dentist
A fluoride treatment in the dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your child’s oral health or your doctor’s recommendation, your child may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. The doctor may also prescribe an at-home fluoride product such as mouthwash, gels, or antibacterial rinses.
How to Choose the Right Fluoride Treatment
When choosing your own 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 by the ADA, and approved, based on safety and effectiveness. Take care of your child’s teeth so they can smile bright with dental fluoride treatments!