Fluoride & Decay Prevention
One of the most common concerns parents have when bringing their kids to Children’s Dental FunZone is about the safety of fluoride treatment. The pediatric dentists in our offices always recommend using fluoride toothpaste and receiving fluoride treatments at every cleaning appointment.
What does fluoride do?
Fluoride is a mineral that aids in decay prevention by strengthening the enamel of the teeth so that the tooth is not as prone to cavities that are caused by the acidic byproducts released by the bacteria found in the mouth. With fluoride protection, our dentists have discovered that tooth decay can be reduced by up to 70%. From the child’s very first tooth till their molars are completed in adolescence, fluoride is an integral part of decay prevention. For very young children, a small smear of fluoridated toothpaste can help keep their teeth strong. As the child grows older, a pea sized amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste and fluoride-containing mouthwash can really help prevent decay.
What are other sources of fluoride?
It may be a surprise to know that tap water is a great source of fluoride and may help keep children’s teeth strong. Drinking fluoridated water that contains trace amounts of fluoride can only be truly affective; therefore, children are encouraged to drink at least a pint of water daily. Bottle water does not have fluoride, so it is important that parents use provide distilled tap water to their children. Fluoride is safe and has been added into water supplies for years now, but there are still some communities that do not benefit from fluoridated water. If it is not present in your city’s water supply, a prescription for fluoride drops or tablets may be obtained for your children from your dentist.
Can too much fluoride be harmful?
Children may receive more than enough fluoride if they are drinking fluoridated water. If parents choose to give them fluoride supplements in addition to the amount found in the water supply, there could be some esthetic consequences. Specifically, this could result in fluorosis, or the appearance of white spots on the child’s teeth. Fluorosis could also happen if the child tends to swallow toothpaste when brushing his teeth. Therefore, it is important that you only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children, twice a day, when brushing.
What about fluoridated mouth rinses?
Aside from fluoridated tap or drinking water, fluoride can be found in other sources such as fluoride mouth rinses. These mouth rinses are recommended mainly in people who have an increased risk of getting cavities and is usually not given to children under the age of six.
Besides the fluoride that can be obtained at home, fluoride treatment can be done for every child after their cleaning. At Children’s Dental FunZone we use topical fluoride or fluoride varnish. These may be applied directly onto the surface of the teeth in the form of foams, gels, or varnishes to help strengthen the enamel of the teeth and prevent tooth decay. Again, fluoride supplements—chewable tablets, drops, or lozenges—may be prescribed to those who do not live in an area where they fluoridate water or those who are at high risk for tooth decay, but this is based upon the dentist recommendations. For more information on fluoride feel free to discuss the risks and benefits with the pediatric experts at Children’s Dental FunZone today.