Your child’s overall state of health can be affected by the condition of their gums and teeth. For this very reason, your child’s pediatrician will talk to you about good dental habits for kids before their first tooth even erupts. It’s also why it’s so important to get your children to the dentist by the age of one to start regular checkups. Read more about this in our post, “At What Age Should You Take Your Child to the Dentist?”
Once your child’s very first tooth comes in, it is recommended by pediatricians and pediatric dentists that they started getting fluoride varnish treatments in order to help prevent tooth decay. Watch the video below to hear Dr. Jason Horgesheimer talk about the benefits of fluoride varnishes at Redwood Pediatric Dentistry.
Why are Fluoride Varnishes Important?
Fluoride varnishes are used to protect the teeth and to help prevent tooth decay. These fluoride treatments can be done two or four times per year. How often you get the treatments for your child is directly related to how likely it would be for your child to get a cavity.
“One of the benefits of coming to the dentist on a regular six-month basis is a fluoride treatment. Fluoride varnishes are simply smeared on the teeth and it’s very beneficial to intercept small little cavities. One or two applications of these fluoride varnishes can actually remineralize or strengthen these cavities so that we don’t need to actually restore them with a filling.” – Dr. Jason
While there are some pediatricians who will apply fluoride varnishes at their office, it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that the fluoride varnishes are applied at a dental office instead. Keep reading to learn more valuable information from the AAP regarding the use of fluoride varnish.
What is a Fluoride Varnish?
This is a type of dental treatment that can help prevent cavities and tooth decay, slow down the progression of tooth decay, or stop it altogether. Fluoride varnish is made with the mineral fluoride that’s known to strengthen the outer coating on the teeth, which is known as enamel.
It is important to realize that fluoride varnish treatments alone cannot completely prevent the formation of cavities. However, fluoride varnish treatments can help to prevent tooth decay and cavities when a child is also brushing their teeth with the right amount of fluoridated toothpaste, flossing regularly, eating a healthy diet, and visiting their pediatric dentist on a regular basis.
Are Fluoride Varnish Treatments Safe?
Fluoride varnish is safe. They are used by dentists and doctors around the entire world to help prevent cavities and prevent tooth decay from getting worse. The treatment alone contains a very small amount of fluoride and hardly any of it is swallowed. It hardens quickly immediately after it is applied. Then after four to twelve hours, it is brushed off.
Most children enjoy the taste of fluoride treatments as they are quite palatable. Some of the brands could make your child’s teeth appear yellow or dull, but this goes away once the treatment is brushed off.
How is Fluoride Varnish Applied to My Child’s Teeth?
The tincture which is known as the fluoride varnish is simply painted on the tops and the sides of each tooth with a little brush. At first, the substance may feel a bit sticky but as soon as it comes into contact with saliva it hardens. While your child might be able to feel the hardened varnish, they are not able to lick the varnish off of their teeth.
No pain is involved during the application process. However, some small children may still cry because they are fearful of the procedure. Brushing the varnish onto the teeth only takes a couple of minutes, and if the child is crying it can actually be applied at that time as their mouth will be slightly opened. In the case of small children, you may be asked to hold your child in your lap while you sit knee-to-knee with the person who is applying the varnish.
How Should I Care for My Child’s Teeth After the Fluoride Varnish is Applied?
Once the varnish has been applied to your child’s teeth, there are some general guidelines that you should pay attention to regarding the proper care for their teeth. Your doctor or pediatric dentist may offer other special instructions, so be sure to review with them as well.
- Your child can start eating right after the varnish has been applied, but needs to avoid hot foods and drinks. Only cold and warm foods or liquids should be consumed right after the treatment.
- Wait at least four to six hours before the child brushes or flosses their teeth. Many dentists will advise you to wait until the next morning to do so. Be sure that you instruct your child to spit everything out during the brushing of the fluoride varnish.
Other Reminders to Maintain Your Child’s Dental Health
- Be sure your child is receiving care by a dentist who is specially trained to work with pediatric patients.
- Ensure that your child receives enough – but not too much – fluoride.
- Fluoride and fluoride varnishes are never meant to be swallowed. Be sure your child understands this.
- Remind your child and check on them to be sure they are performing tooth brushing and flossing regularly.
- Provide a healthy, balanced diet for your child full of fruits and vegetables.
It’s advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics to take your infant in for an oral health risk assessment by age six months or when their first tooth comes in (whichever comes first). This is especially true if the parents or other members of the family are especially prone to caries and tooth decay. Regardless, it’s important to have the child’s dental “home” established by their first birthday.
Do you have a baby that needs to be scheduled for their first check-up? Do you have children that are in need of fluoride varnish? Whatever the case may be, call the Redwood Pediatric Dentistry at (801) 281-8881 to get an appointment set up today. Physicians and parents throughout Salt Lake, Taylorsville, South Salt Lake, and West Valley trust us for their child’s dental health needs, and so can you.