Fluoride is an element, which has been shown to be beneficial to teeth. However, too little or too much fluoride can be detrimental to the teeth. Little or no fluoride will not strengthen the teeth to help them resist cavities. Excessive fluoride ingestion by preschool-aged children can lead to dental fluorosis, which is a chalky white to even brown discoloration of the permanent teeth. Many children often get more fluoride than their parents realize. Being aware of a child’s potential sources of fluoride can help parents prevent the possibility of dental fluorosis.
Some of these sources are:
- Too much fluoridated toothpaste at an early age.
- The inappropriate use of fluoride supplements.
- Hidden sources of fluoride in the child’s diet.
Two and three year olds may not be able to expectorate (spit out) fluoride-containing toothpaste when brushing. As a result, these youngsters may ingest an excessive amount of fluoride during tooth brushing. Toothpaste ingestion during this critical period of permanent tooth development is the greatest risk factor in the development of fluorosis.
Excessive and inappropriate intake of fluoride supplements may also contribute to fluorosis. Fluoride drops and tablets, as well as fluoride fortified vitamins should not be given to infants younger than six months of age. After that time, fluoride supplements should only be given to children after all of the sources of ingested fluoride have been accounted for and upon the recommendation of your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.
Certain foods contain high levels of fluoride, especially powdered concentrate infant formula, soy-based infant formula, infant dry cereals, creamed spinach, and infant chicken products. Please read the label or contact the manufacturer. Some beverages also contain high levels of fluoride, especially decaffeinated teas, white grape juices, and juice drinks manufactured in fluoridated cities.
Parents can take the following steps to decrease the risk of fluorosis in their children’s teeth:
- Use baby tooth cleanser on the toothbrush of the very young child.
- Place only a pea sized drop of children’s toothpaste on the brush when brushing.
- Account for all of the sources of ingested fluoride before requesting fluoride supplements from your child’s physician or pediatric dentist.
- Avoid giving any fluoride-containing supplements to infants until they are at least 6 months old.
- Obtain fluoride level test results for your drinking water before giving fluoride supplements to your child (check with local water utilities).
Silver Diamine Fluoride
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is an FDA-approved topical solution that treats and prevents dental caries and reduces tooth sensitivity. It is made with two acting ingredients: the silver component is an anti-microbial agent that kills bacteria and prevents the formation of new biofilm, and the fluoride prevents further demineralization (softening) of the tooth structure.
Treatment with SDF does not eliminate the need for restorative dentistry (fillings, crowns, etc.) to repair function or aesthetics, but is effective at preventing further decay.
SDF is a simple and noninvasive way to treat carious lesions (cavities), and it can be done from the comfort of our dental office.
- The teeth are brushed without paste and rinsed.
- The carious teeth are isolated, kept dry, and all excess debris is removed.
- A microbrush is dipped in a drop of SDF and placed on the lesion(s) for two minutes.
- Any decayed areas will stain black. Healthy tooth structure will not stain.
- Excess SDF is removed and patients are instructed to not eat or drink for one hour.
Why use SDF?
We recommend using SDF in several situations, including:
- Children who have extreme decay (severe early childhood caries)
- Young children who have difficulty sitting still for treatment
- Special needs patients
- Children with carious lesions (cavities) that need to be treated over several visits
The Advantages of SDF:
- Provides immediate relief from tooth hypersensitivity
- Kills the organisms that cause cavities
- Hardens softened dentin making it more acid- and abrasion-resistant
- Does not stain healthy dentin or enamel