Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts depending on where in the UK you live. It is used to help prevent tooth decay, which is why it’s added to many brands of toothpaste and to the water supply through a process called fluoridation.
‘Delivering Better Oral Health’ 3rd Edition shows that the current guidance of fluoride varnish is that 2.2% NaF should be applied twice a year to all children over the age of 3 and to young adults, as well as two or more times a year to those who may have disorders or other concerns that may have an affect on oral health; such as individuals likely to develop cavities.
Fluoride varnish can be applied to both baby teeth and adult teeth by a dentist. This involves painting a varnish containing high levels of fluoride onto the surface of the tooth every 6 months to prevent decay. It works by strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay.
From the age of 3, children should be offered fluoride varnish treatment at least twice a year. Fluoride varnish should be offered 2 or more times a year for children of all ages with tooth decay or those at high risk of developing it.
Often people believe that Fluoride varnish should only be applied on children showing high risks and that it isn’t necessary for those with healthy teeth, however this is untrue and all children from the age of 3 would benefit from the varnish as it helps prevent tooth decay and reduces cavities. Various systematic reviews support this as they show the reduced amount of cavities/decay by applying fluoride varnish twice a year – in conclusion, the applications two or more times a year produce a mean reduction in cavities increment of 37% in the primary dentition and 43% in the permanent.
“My area is already Fluoridated so I don’t need to apply it”
In these cases, individuals don’t feel like it is necessary as there is already Fluoride in their water system and believe too much Fluoride will be harmful to their children, although the application of varnish would still be highly beneficial in preventing tooth decay.
If children receive four doses of fluoride varnish as well as drinking fluoridated water, it is still within the safe limits for acute toxicity or chronic ingestion resulting in fluorosis. The toxic dose of fluoride ingestion is estimated at 5mg of fluoride per kg of the child’s body weight. The dose of 0.25ml of Duraphat contains 5.6mg of fluoride.
It takes very little time to apply fluoride varnish and is generally well accepted by children. It can be applied by the dentist or under prescription of a dentist by the wider dental team. Dental nurses can be trained to apply fluoride varnish to the prescription of a dentist.
In conclusion, the application of Fluoride varnish on children’s teeth is highly beneficial even if their area is Fluoridated and will not cause any harm as the toxicity levels are low.
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