The 411 On Fluoride
WHAT IS FLUORIDE?
Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter! But what is it and how does it work?
Fluoride is a mineral found in water, rocks, and soil. It makes tooth enamel (or the hard, outer covering on teeth) stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. And it can benefit your child (and yourself!) through 2 mechanisms of action: systemic and topical.
The systemic action of fluoride, which can come from drinking community water that is fluoridated or a prescribed fluoride supplement, works on the permanent teeth that are developing in your child’s mouth. It makes them stronger and less prone to cavities before they even break through the gums. Water fluoridation can help prevent tooth decay in addition to using toothpaste or mouth rinse with fluoride. According to the American Dental Association, children had around three times as more cavities before water fluoridation! If you live in a community that does not have fluoridated water, don’t worry! There are fluoride supplements that we can prescribe.
Topical fluoride works on the teeth that have already erupted in your child’s mouth to make them less prone to cavities. Topical fluoride is present in fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses, and it works to strengthen any weakened tooth enamel and combat any early signs of tooth decay. It is recommended that you start brushing your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as teeth start to appear in the mouth. For children 0-3, use a small smear no bigger than the size of a grain of rice, and for children 3-6, use no more than a pea-sized amount. Mouth rinse with fluoride can also help protect teeth against tooth decay – but it’s not recommended for children 6 years or younger, as it’s more likely they will swallow it instead of spitting it out. In addition to fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses, fluoride treatments are offered at our office during your child’s check-up visits. This method of fluoride also works on the teeth that are already present in your child’s mouth.
For more information, check out these links! And, of course, never hesitate to ask!