Ask a Dental Hygienist: Fluoride



One of our readers had a question about the School Fluoride Rinse program available here in Virginia. As many kids are getting back to school, you might find that your child’s school may offer similar programs. I thought I would answer a few questions about fluoride as it can cause confusion.

The school fluoride program is done once a week in the “swish and spit” format. It is a topical flavored fluoride rinse like the over the counter mouthwash ACT. Fluoride has been key in the great reduction in cavities in children. Parents must sign a consent form for the fluoride and the teachers and staff are trained by a dental professional on how to administer it. You can find out more information for the Virginia program HERE.

The confusion with fluoride comes in with topical versus systemic fluoride. Some communities have fluoridated water which is considered systemic; it is ingested. Systemic fluoride helps teeth as they are forming, long before they erupt into the mouth. Topical fluoride is beneficial for teeth that have already erupted into the mouth. Topical fluoride is found in mouthwash, toothpaste and it is given in a tray at the dental office. There is no harm in using all three forms of topical fluoride as long as the child does not swallow it. If your child still swallows toothpaste, then they should refrain from using fluoridated toothpaste and rinses until they learn to spit it all out.

I hope this clears up some of the confusion with fluoride. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment!

Renae, RDH, Ms.Ed.

For more dental health tips, read these:

Save on Dental Bills
Read Ask a Dental Hygienist: Fluoride
Ask a Nurse: The Top10 Things Dentists Want You to Know
A Trip to the Dentist

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