Smiles For Tomorrow
Topical Fluoride

Course Author(s): American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Chicago, IL

Topical Fluoride

The use of topical fluorides may result in a significant reduction in caries.Topical application of fluoride is available via:

  • Professionally-applied topicalfluoride treatment
  • Over-the-counter rinses for homeuse
  • Prescription rinses and gelsfor home application
  • Fluoride-containing toothpastes

Over-the-counter fluoride mouthrinses are not recommended for preschool agedchildren. Fluoride mouthrinses or brush-on gels may be recommended for school-agedchildren with active caries or at high risk for caries. Indicators of increasedcaries risk include:

  • orthodontic/prosthodontic appliances
  • reduced salivary function
  • inability to clean teeth properly
  • dietary risks
  • siblings with caries
  • high oral levels of cariogenicbacteria

Over-the-counter rinses are designed for daily use. Higher concentrationfluoride prescription rinses and gels are designed for weekly use.

Using small amounts of fluoride on a routine basis can help prevent tooth decay.Too much fluoride could cause fluorosis of developing enamel. Fluorosis usuallyis mild, with tiny white specks or streaks that often are unnoticeable. Developmentof fluorosis depends on the amount, duration and timing of excessive fluoride intake.Products containing fluoride should be stored out of the reach of young children.

Toothpaste can be used as a means to deliver fluoride to the tooth surface.The use of a fluoridated toothpaste should always be supervised in this age group.For those under three years old, a smear or rice size amount of fluoridated toothpastetwice a day is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and AmericanDental Association.12A very small amount of fluoridated toothpaste, equal to the size of a pea, shouldbe wiped onto the toothbrush by the caretaker for children over aged 3 to 6 yearsof age twice a day.12Caution should be taken to prevent the swallowing of toothpaste during criticalperiods of enamel formation.

Fluoride products should be kept in childproof storage areas. This includesnot only supplements but toothpastes, fluoride rinses, and gels.