Role of Fluoride in Preventing Dental Caries in Kids
Dental caries is a chronic and infectious disease that affects almost 92% of the population. According to surveys, more than 42% of children aged 2-11 years have dental caries in their milk teeth. About 13% of people aged 12-19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
Experts have found fluoride treatment to be an easy yet effective way to prevent dental caries in children. This article will explore the role of fluoride in keeping your kid’s teeth from root decay. Let’s take a closer look at how fluoride works and how your pediatric dentist can help you with the treatment.
What is Fluoride and Where Can You Find It?
Fluoride is an inorganic chemical compound that is naturally found in water, air, soil, rocks, and plants. The most common dietary sources of fluoride are fish, dried tea leaves, potatoes, yams, bananas, and rock salts.
In our body, fluoride is found in bones and teeth. It helps to strengthen the mineralized structures of our body. Topical and systemic administration of fluoride can help in preventing dental caries.
How Does Fluoride Help In Preventing Dental Caries?
Studies have confirmed that fluoride can help reduce dental caries and the topical application of fluoride has proven to reduce the incidence of caries. Whether fluoride is incorporated systematically or applied topically on the tooth surface, it can help protect your teeth by:
Fluoride Strenghtens the Tooth Structures
Improper oral hygiene can cause a layer of food debris to form on the tooth surface, which gets calcified over time. This layer is called plaque. Harmful decay-causing bacteria inhabit this plaque and release acids that dissolve the mineralized tooth structures like enamel and dentin, leading to tooth decay. Application of fluoride topically on the enamel forms a thin protective layer that reduces the state of demineralization, thereby preventing the occurrence of dental caries.
Fluoride Helps In Remineralising The Tooth Structures
During tooth development, not all areas of the tooth are equally mineralized. The less-mineralized parts of your tooth are more susceptible to decay if exposed to causative factors. Fluoride, combined with calcium and potassium, improves the rate of mineralization after the tooth erupts, which increases its resistance to dental caries. If the decay has just begun to occur, fluoride can help remineralize the lesion and prevent it from growing.
Fluoride Protects Teeth From Plaque & Microorganism
Fluoride has antibacterial properties. When used in high concentrations, fluoride can have a bactericidal effect. It kills the bacteria in plaque and reduces the incidence of tooth decay. If used in lower concentrations, fluoride acts as a bacteriostatic agent and inhibits the growth of caries-causing bacteria. It also minimizes the release of acid that is responsible for demineralizing the enamel and causing dental caries.
Fluoride Modifies Tooth Morphology During Growth Years
Our teeth have multiple pits and fissures. Sometimes these fissures are deeper than usual which makes cleaning the food debris lodged into them harder. As a result, the tooth becomes more susceptible to decay. Studies that ingesting fluoride compounds during tooth development can modify the tooth morphology, making the pits and fissures more shallow and decreasing the possibility of the development of dental caries.
How do Pediatric Dentists Use Fluoride to Help Prevent Dental Caries in Kids?
When you are concerned about your child’s teeth and want to prevent dental caries, the best option is to visit experienced pediatric dentists. It has been seen that when children are given topical fluoride supplements, the incidence of dental caries gets dramatically reduced.
Many pediatric dentists administer fluoride in the form of rinse, foam, gel, or fluoride varnish. These can be applied using swabs, brushes, special dental trays, or mouthwash. The professionally applied fluoride products contain high concentrations of fluoride.
Among these topical fluoride supplements, fluoride varnishes are considered to be the most effective ones. Varnishes like MI Varnish, Duraphat, Carex, and Fluorprotector are applied after drying the tooth post-prophylaxis. 0.3-0.5 ml of fluoride varnish is painted over the tooth surface of your entire upper arch.
After application, you will be asked to sit with your mouth open for a few minutes, until the varnish dries. Then, the lower arch will be treated with fluoride varnish in a similar process. You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after the Fluoride varnish application.
Applying Fluoride Products At Home to Prevent Dental Caries in Kids
Topical fluorides can also be self-applied at home. However, since OTC products are intended for daily use, supplements like fluoridated toothpaste, gels, and mouth rinses contain a much lower concentration of fluoride than fluoride products used professionally.
The fluoridated toothpaste and rinses contain compounds like Sodium fluoride, Stannous Fluoride, Amine Fluoride, and monofluorophosphate. With regular use, these compounds from the toothpaste seep into the mineralized tooth structures, strengthening them and reducing the chance of dental caries and early childhood caries.
Pediatric dentists also prescribe fluoride tablets, dental fluoride drops, lozenges & GC tooth mousse for kids to school children as a part of home-based dental fluoride treatment. The fluoride drops are convenient to use on toddlers when their teeth are erupting. Other supplements like tablets and lozenges can be chewed or swallowed.
How can Systemic Fluorides Help Prevent Dental Caries in Children?
Fluoride can also be administered systemically, as a preventive measure for dental caries at a community level. It provides a low concentration of fluoride over a long period of time. Fluoride compounds can be added to public water supplies and directly administered to kids via their diet.
Fluoridation of bottled milk is also an effective way to administer fluoride to kids in their growing years to reduce the risk of the development of dental caries. Systemic fluoridation is economical and is targeted to help the entire population at once.
How Much Fluoride is Good For You?
Fluoride is helpful to you if taken in the right amount. Inadequate or excessive intake of fluoride can be harmful to your health. A deficiency of fluoride increases the risk of dental caries, and can even cause osteoporosis.
On the other hand, too much fluoride in your body can cause dental fluorosis. Dr Sushil Kumar MDS Pediatric dentist in Bangalore at Growing smiles pediatric dentistry in Whitefield says that dental fluorosis causes chalky-white flecks to appear on the tooth enamel. However, people with dental fluorosis are highly resistant to dental caries.
If ingested in excessive amounts within a short time, it can lead to Fluoride toxicity. This is characterized by abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, and increased production of saliva. Fluoride toxicity can also cause dehydration and excessive thirst.
We hope this article has helped you understand how effective fluoride treatment can be in protecting your kid’s teeth from dental caries. When taken in the right amount, fluoride can prevent tooth decay by strengthening your teeth, slowing down demineralization, and boosting the remineralization of the tooth structures.
Get In touch
GROWING SMILES™ Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics
Address: Converge by UKn, No 78/2, Ground floor, Nallurahalli Main Rd, Whitefield, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560066
Phone: 093193 73963