Did you know that 20% of children aged 5 to 11 years old have at least one untreated decayed tooth? Unfortunately, children are at high risk of developing dental caries, or cavities. In addition to excellent oral hygiene and diet practices, fluoride treatments and sealants can provide many benefits for your child’s teeth.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that strengthens the outer surface of your teeth. While your child can get fluoride from fluoridated foods and by drinking fluoridated water, fluoride treatments support healthy tooth enamel and help fight bacteria that harm teeth and gums.
Benefits of Fluoride for Kids
Years of research have shown that regular fluoride use is one of the safest ways to fight and prevent tooth decay in children. Fluoride treatments help remineralize and strengthen all surfaces of enamel, protecting the tooth surface from damage. Fluoride also defends your smile from acids in your mouth, which can dissolve your enamel over time. While fluoride treatments are beneficial, they are most effective when used in tandem with sealant treatments. According to an ADA study, children who were given both treatments were 73% less likely to present with cavities later, compared to children who only received fluoride treatments.
When to Get Fluoride Treatments
Once your infant gets their first tooth, they are ready for fluoride treatments. On average, children should receive 2-4 fluoride treatments per year, depending on their overall health and their likelihood of developing cavities. This is to facilitate the healthy growth and development of their teeth. After a fluoride application, your child should not eat or drink for at least 30 minutes.
What Are Sealants?
Dental sealants, also known as fissure sealants, are a tooth-colored preventative coating that fills in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Easily completed in one appointment, the sealant application process is simple and painless. First, the sealants are painted onto a clean and dry tooth surface. Then, they are hardened with a special light.
Benefits of Sealants for Kids
Did you know that sealants reduce the risk of cavities up to 80 percent? While brushing and flossing are effective for preventing cavities, sealants form a virtually invisible, protective shield over grooves in molars. This helps prevent bacteria and food from getting stuck in the tooth’s natural creases. In addition to being easy to apply, dental sealants also provide protection immediately after application and can last several years before a reapplication is needed.
When to Get Sealants
Dental sealants have become the standard of care among pediatric dentists. Most pediatric dentists recommend children get sealants as soon as their permanent molars arrive.
Sealants and fluoride both prevent tooth decay, but in different ways. If you have any questions about fluoride or sealant treatments for your child, schedule an appointment with your dentist. He or she can educate you more about these two powerful cavity-fighting treatment methods and recommend the best course of action for your child.