Fluoride is the most effective tool available today in Dentistry to prevent tooth decay and enhance the durability of teeth. Its effect on enamel is mainly local, making it harder and more resistant against cariogenic acids produced by microbes in the mouth. At the same time, it has a mild antibacterial action against these germs.
What is teeth fluoridation
This is a procedure in which the dentist applies fluoride locally on the surface of the teeth, in the form of a gel and applies it with the help of special plastic trays. In some cases, fluoride in the form of varnish can be used. In all cases, its concentration is particularly high and therefore its use by parents and children at home is not recommended. The application is done only at the doctor’s office and always with the use of a saliva pump to remove it from the mouth and prevent it from being swallowed by the child.
Fluoridation: strengthening the teeth and protecting against caries
Fluoridation can be used preventively and therapeutically:
- as a precaution, in children who have not developed caries
- therapeutically, in children who have teeth with onset or advanced caries to prevent the action of bacteria.
When should my child start fluoridation
Fluoridation is recommended from the age of 3-4 years onward, when all the baby teeth have erupted. In general, fluoridation is considered necessary:
- in children at high caries risk
- At the age of 7 and 10 years old, when the permanent teeth erupt and it is important to shield them against caries from the onset.
Depending on the child’s caries risk – that is, how many decayed teeth, cavities / holes they have – the dentist decides at what age fluoridation should begin and how often it should be repeated.
Topical application of fluoride at the doctor’s office, once or twice a year, depending on the child’s needs, in combination with a teeth and mouth check-up, greatly contribute to the reduction of caries.
In what ways can a child receive fluoride
Fluoride is present in small concentrations in the foods we eat every day, such as tea and fish, but it is not enough to protect our teeth. Research has shown that adding fluoride to drinking water, at a certain concentration (one in a million – or 1 ppm), can prevent caries by up to 60%. At this concentration, fluoride is completely harmless to the body.
Today a total of over 220 million people worldwide use artificially fluoridated water and enjoy better health and fewer problems.
In our country, both the central water supply network and most local networks contain negligible amounts of fluoride.
For this reason, fluoride should be taken – in addition to fluoridation at the doctor’s office – in other forms to help prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride toothpaste is considered to be the most important means of caries prevention today, and its wide use after 1980 is considered to be the main cause of caries reduction in the Western world. Studies have shown that regular use of fluoride toothpaste can reduce caries by more than 20-40%, due to the local action of fluoride.
Children up to the age of 2 years should use toothpastes with a reduced amount of fluoride 250-500 ppm F; from 2 to 6 years old, they can use a toothpaste with at least 1000 ppm F, while from the age of 7 years old, they can use a normal toothpaste that usually contains up to 1450-1500 ppm.
Fluoride tablets are used as a supplement only in cases where the drinking water does not contain fluoride and when children have a clear predisposition to develop caries if diagnosed by the pediatric dentist. A prescription is required to purchase them.
The reception of fluoride tablets by children in these cases, starts from 6 months and continues until the age of about 8 years, when most permanent teeth are formed.
After the age of 8-10 years when the child can better control swallowing, the use of fluoride tablets can be replaced with fluoride mouthwashes, if necessary.