The Role Fluoride Plays in Your Child’s Teeth

Child receiving a fluoride treatment.

Fluoride, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), is one of the key reasons that tooth decay over the last several years has been significantly reduced. The use of fluoride is important for both children and adults in the fight against cavities and tooth decay. Fluoride and fluoridation are effective and safe options for maintaining a healthy smile when they are used appropriately. Your team at Fort Collins Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies can help you understand the benefits and advantages of regular fluoride treatments and practices.

Let’s Talk About Fluoride

What is it? Fluoride is a mineral compound containing fluorine, a naturally occurring element.  It helps prevent tooth decay because it enables the tooth to be more resistant to plaque and acid. Your tooth’s enamel layer loses minerals everyday when plaque bacteria and sugars form an acid on your teeth and attack it.  Over time, if you are not replacing the lost minerals, your teeth begin to decay. Fluoride replaces these vital minerals and nutrients your teeth need and helps to strengthen the enamel. 


Do Adults and Children Need Fluoride?

Yes. During the ages of 6 months to 16 years fluoride use is critical because  of developing and erupting permanent teeth.  You want your permanent teeth to start strong so they can be strong throughout your life.  But, adults need it as well. As mentioned earlier, fluoride helps replenish lost minerals from bacteria introduced into your mouth from the foods that you eat.



What Fluoride Options Do I Have?

There are a few different options for fluoride treatments at our Fort Collins office.  Age will determine which treatment is most effective.  For children, Drs. Willey and Murri recommend a topical varnish that is much easier to use than traditional rinses, foams and trays. Typically, the varnish is applied with a cotton swab or brush, (but it can also be administered through a rinse solution or placed in a tray that is held in your mouth for a few minutes. For the treatment to be most effective, you are asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes following your treatment. This allows your teeth to absorb the fluoride and repair microscopic carious areas.  Topical varnishes are applied immediately following a thorough teeth cleaning in our office.  An assistant will paint the varnish on the teeth where it will continue to spread and be absorbed over a period of about 24 hours.  

What Conditions Should I Look For That Necessitate More Fluoride?

According to the ADA, the following conditions put you more at risk for cavities and more in need of regular treatments:

  • poor oral hygiene
  • active cavities
  • eating disorders
  • drug or alcohol abuse
  • lack of regular professional dental care
  • active orthodontic treatment combined with poor oral hygiene
  • high levels of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth
  • exposed root surfaces of teeth
  • decreased salivary flow, resulting in dry mouth
  • poor diet
  • existing restorations (fillings)
  • tooth enamel defects
  • undergoing head and neck radiation therapy

Routine examinations with your dentist can help you combat some of these conditions. Our experienced staff is here to help you get the help you need to combat the others and get you on your way to a healthier mouth and body.

How Often Do I Need to Have a Fluoride Treatment?

If you or a loved one suffer from one or more of the high-risk conditions listed above you may be asked to come in for a fluoride treatment more frequently.  Your oral health status will determine if treatments are needed every three, six or 12 months.  If you are at high risk for cavities, after a comprehensive examination and consultation with Drs. Willey and Murri, it may be recommended that additional preventive measures are taken.  Over-the-counter or prescription therapeutic products such as fluoride mouthrinses, gels or antibacterial mouthrinses can be effective at helping keep your tooth enamel strong and your mouth healthy.

Consult with one of our staff at Fort Collins Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies before purchasing any over-the-counter products that we haven’t already recommended to you. They are NOT all the same.  Reputable products should carry the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Products displaying the ADA Seal have been examined carefully by the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs and have met its criteria for safety and effectiveness.  Even then, you must follow the instructions carefully for these products and keep them away from young children. Too much fluoride can have disastrous effects on your teeth.

If Your Water is Fluoridated, Do You Need Fluoride Treatments?

Most city water supplies are fluoridated. As a matter of fact, approximately 62% of the U.S. population that uses public water supplies has access to adequate levels of fluoride. 43 of the 50 largest U.S. cities have water fluoridation systems.  and you will find fluoride in toothpastes, and mouth rinses, but the concentration of fluoride from these sources is very small.  Treatments used in our Fort Collins Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies office are much more concentrated and produce persuasive results. Studies show that children who receive regular treatments, once every 6 months, may have up to 40% fewer cavities than those who do not.

Schedule Your Dental Cleaning Today

Professional fluoride treatments are an integral part of preventing cavities and periodontal disease and helping you maintain a healthy, white smile. To learn more about our treatments or to schedule an appointment, call our Fort Collins office today at (970) 223-6101. You can also send a contact request or make an appointment online using the form below.