Fluoride Treatments for Kids

little girl in dental chair

Fluoride is one of the most effective treatments we have for protecting children’s teeth from decay. We offer both standard fluoride treatments and silver diamine fluoride, a special type of fluoride that can stop tooth decay from progressing or spreading. 

Fluoride Treatments

After your child’s routine dental cleaning and exam, we apply a fluoride varnish to their teeth. Fluoride is a natural mineral that strengthens teeth and prevents decay. Although fluoride is present in some tap water and most toothpaste, the fluoride treatments your child receives at our office provide extra protection. The fluoride in water is considered systemic fluoride, while fluoride varnish is topical. The combination of topical and systemic fluoride is the best way to keep teeth healthy and strong.

Topical fluoride treatment is important because:

    • Fluoride restores the minerals in teeth, strengthening the tooth enamel.
    • Fluoride can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.
    • The earlier children begin getting fluoride treatment, the less likely they are to develop cavities.

Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)

Silver diamine fluoride is a liquid solution made of silver, water, fluoride. Although used in Japan for decades, the use of SDF is just beginning to gain popularity in the United States.

SDF is FDA-approved and has been clinically shown to stop cavities in their tracks. While it’s not a substitute for dental fillings, it’s useful in pediatric dentistry because it often buys us time when there is a cavity on a baby tooth and even adult teeth in some instances—instead of filling the cavity right away, we can use SDF to stop the cavity from growing or spreading and wait for the tooth to fall out naturally. Silver diamine fluoride also allows us to treat cavities in children with special needs without resorting to hospital dentistry in some instances.

We apply SDF directly to the affected tooth. It’s a pain-free treatment that first involves drying the area, and then painting on the SDF. SDF treatment is affordable and often covered by dental insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fluoride

Is fluoride safe for my child?

Extremely high levels of fluoride can be toxic, but the amounts used in fluoride varnish, silver diamine fluoride, toothpaste, and fluoridated water are not harmful or excessive. Fluoride has been successfully used to prevent cavities in pediatric dentistry for decades.

How often should my child receive fluoride treatment?

Fluoride treatment is usually performed twice a year, during routine dental exams and cleanings, but if your child is particularly susceptible to cavities, fluoride varnish can be applied up to four times a year.

How does silver diamine fluoride work?

It works in two ways: first, the fluoride strengthens the tooth structure to prevent the growth and spread of decay. Then, as an antimicrobial agent, the silver kills the harmful bacteria that causes cavities.

Are there risks with silver diamine fluoride?

If your child has an allergy to silver, they are likely to suffer an allergic reaction to SDF treatment; SDF is not recommended in such cases. Other risks include temporary stains if SDF gets on the skin or gums and a metallic aftertaste after the treatment.