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Doctors Asked to Help With Fluoride Varnish Treatments

May 09, 2014

By Dean George

In an effort to stem the tide of preschool children with cavities, a new task force report has updated its pediatric dental guidelines to include the assistance of primary care doctors.


Pediatrics is reporting that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that primary care doctors introduce children age 5 and younger to a fluoride varnish when the first tooth appears. The task force declined to say how often primary care physicians should varnish infants’ teeth, pointing to inconclusive research. 

As Dental Wire has reported, that first tooth may erupt sometime between the ages of 3 months to 9 months.

Previously parents were encouraged to take their child in for the first dental visit no later than their first birthday.  If primary care doctors applied oral fluoride, it was only to babies at least 6 months old who lacked access to fluoridated water. 

Why the change? The Task Force said that insufficient data made it hard to conclude whether regular dental visits for fluoride treatment would benefit preschoolers.

“Only 1 in 4 preschool children is (sic) are seeing a dentist, but most see a primary care clinician,” said Dr. Michael LeFevre, a family physician who chairs the University Of Missouri School Of Medicine in Columbia. “Primary care clinicians can play an important complementary role in helping keep children’s teeth healthy.”

Pediatric dentist and American Dental Association spokeswoman Dr. Mary Hayes welcomes the help in fighting tooth cavities in preschoolers. “It’s a good thing that dentistry and medicine are working hand in hand,” she said.

Primary care doctors are being asked to intervene because statistics reveal that 42 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 11 get cavities in their baby teeth. While those percentages declined for a 25-year period between the early 1970’s and the mid-1990’s, they have been steadily increasing since, particularly with preschoolers.

Doctors are also being asked to give oral fluoride supplements to children 6 months and up if their local water supply lacks sufficient fluoride. Fluoride supplements come in drops, tablets and lozenges.

All the dental plans available at Dental Insurance Store offer pediatric fluoride varnish treatment as a preventative benefit, and a few plans also cover adults. To see plans available in your area click here. To see the cost of fluoride treatments for any plan, click the Plan Details button near the upper right-hand corner of the plan you are considering.

Sources: nlm.nih.gov, reuters.com

Photo source: eastindypediatricdentist.com


Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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