Each time I take my son in for his checkup and cleaning at his pediatric dentist, which I do every six months, the hygienist wants to apply a fluoride treatment to his teeth. My son doesn’t particularly like the foam brushed onto his teeth, but also my insurance only covers having the treatment once a year. I’m wondering if it is even necessary to do this when I have my son brush with a toothpaste that has fluoride in it everyday.
Deb, Worcester, MA
As uncomfortable as fluoride treatments are for some kids, they are a necessary evil. Fluoride, applied topically to a tooth, becomes calcium fluorapatite when it is incorporated into the enamel. This makes a tooth less vulnerable to tooth decay. Because new teeth are often erupting in a child’s mouth, dentists recommend applying fluoride at each visit. Treating those new teeth as they come out is very effective.
Using a toothpaste for your son that has fluoride in it is beneficial in protecting enamel for the same reason as having it applied at the dentist. The difference is the concentration of fluoride. Toothpaste pales in comparison to the concentration in that which the hygienist applies. The dentist’s fluoride treatment is good for children because it will continue to seep fluoride into the surface of the tooth for a month or more. This leads to less new cavities and a reversal of decay in some children.
Pediatric dentists are familiar with tooth decay in youth and how best to prevent it. They are going to suggest what they feel is best for their patients. If you are worried about your insurance coverage, talk to your dentist and express your concerns.
You may be interested in learning more about affordable dentistry.
This post is sponsored by Enfield dentist Dr. William Cummiskey at Generations Dental Care.