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Fluoride Varnish: What Parents Need to Know

When your child’s first tooth appears, Dr. Young with Young Kidz Dental will begin to talk to you and your child about how important healthy gums and teeth are to your child’s overall health.

With the appearance of teeth may come the recommendation from your pediatric dentist that your child also receive a fluoride treatment in Dr. Young’s pediatric dentist office in Clackamas, OR to help prevent tooth decay for your child. This can be done two to four times per year, and the number of treatments depends on how likely it is that your child may get a cavity which Dr. Young and his staff can determine after examining your child and asking you and our young patient a few questions.

There are many benefits to a fluoride varnish as a dental treatment that can help prevent tooth decay, slow it down, or stop it from getting worse. A typical treatment is made with fluoride, a mineral that can strengthen tooth enamel on the outer coating of teeth.

Keep in mind that fluoride varnish treatments cannot completely prevent cavities, but they help best to prevent decay when a child is brushing using the right amount of toothpaste with fluoride, flossing regularly, getting regular dental care, and eating a healthy diet.

Contrary to many peoples’ beliefs, when used correctly fluoride varnish is safe and is used by dentists and doctors all over the world to help prevent tooth decay in children. Fluoride is a naturally existing mineral found in water, many foods, and widely throughout nature. In fact, in the 1930s, researchers determined that people who grow up drinking fluoridated drinking water have about 66% fewer cavities than people living in areas without fluoridated drinking water. Ever since, research has recurrently proven fluoridated drinking water to reduce levels of tooth decay within communities.

Fluoride is often added to tap water supplies for drinking and to toothpaste for children and adults. In our area the tap water is not fluoridated which is likely correlated to high cases of tooth decay in children. At our pediatric office in Clackamas, OR, only a small amount is used, and hardly any fluoride is swallowed. Dr. Young will apply the fluoride quickly, then it will harden rapidly. The fluoride is then brushed off after four to twelve hours.

There are a few things you will want to know when considering fluoride treatment for your child. Some Brands of flouride treatment can make teeth temporarily look dull or chalky; however, the color of your child’s teeth will return to normal after the fluoride treatment is brushed off. Fluoride varnish is painted on the top and sides of each tooth with a small brush. It is sticky, but it hardens once it comes into contact with your child’s saliva. Your child may feel the hardened varnish with his/her tongue but will not be able to lick the varnish off.

Here are a few general guidelines on how to care for your child’s teeth after his/her treatment:

  • Your child can eat and drink right after the varnish is applied, but you should only give your child soft foods and cold or warm (not hot) foods or liquids.
  • Do not brush or floss teeth for at least 4 to 6 hours; for some children Dr. Young may recommend that your child not brush or floss until the next morning. Remind your child to spit when rinsing, if he knows how to spit.

There are many reasons to consider getting a fluoride treatment for your child, but the number one reason is that dental fluoride treatment is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay and maintain excellent dental health in children. Fluoride treatments are both safe and effective in decreasing the prevalence of cavities in children, by 95% specifically, when combined with dental sealants. Making the tooth more impervious to acid attacks caused by sugars and plaque bacteria in the mouth, fluoride acts as a shield for the outer enamel layer of the teeth and actually has the ability to reverse early dental decay in some cases. Ask Dr. Young at Young Kidz Dental in Clackamas, OR about professional fluoride treatment for your child.