Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and water supplies contain fluoride. Fluoride is often added to drinking water or toothpaste in order to reduce tooth decay.
Fluoride is efficient in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating the teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface.The research shows that regular fluoride reduces tooth decay by 50-70%.
But how exactly does fluoride protect your teeth?
In three different ways:
- For the children seven years old and younger children, fluoride strengthening the structure of the tooth. The enamel of the developing teeth is firmed and becomes more resistant to acids.
- When plaque builds around the teeth, bacteria slowly eats away at the enamel and weakens it by leaching the minerals out of it. Fluoride helps to protect teeth through remineralization, and makes sure that the enamel that is replaced during the process is stronger and has more resistance to breakdown.
- Fluoride blocks some of the most harmful enzymes found in plaque and prevent them from producing the acid that weakens the tooth enamel. This is extremely important in preventing tooth decay.
Now we know that fluoride is extremely important, next question is: “Where from your child can get this much needed supplement?”
Sources of fluoride:
- Your kitchen faucet.
Do you have enough fluoride in your water? Even if you know that your water is fluoridated (30 percent of communities in the United States do not have fluoride in their public sources of water), it does not give you the complete answer if you have enough fluoride. Depending of age of municipal water treatments plants and filter system you use at home can vary the fluoride level in homes in the same community. To know the level of fluoride at your home, ask your pediatric dentist where you can have your water tested.
- Drinking water at school.
Since kids spend a significant amount of time in the childcare facilities, you can check with school whether it has fluoride water.
- Bottled water. If your child drinks most of their daily water from bottles, they probably won’t get enough fluoride through this source. Only four percent of bottled water sold in the US is fluoridated.
Do children need fluoride, in what form, and how much?
- Children from 6 months to 16 years may need fluoride as a supplement if their water does not contain enough fluoride. Your child’s dentist will consider many factors before making the decision (whether your child needs an additional fluoride supplement and its’ form) about an amount of fluoride your child needed as a supplement: child’s age, the risk of tooth decay, and the different liquids your child drinks.
- For infants, your pediatric dentist might recommend fluoride drops or combination with prescription vitamins.
- For older children your child’ dentist might recommend fluoride toothpastes, fluoride mouth rinses, and fluoride applications in dentist office.
- Careful supervision is greatly recommended when your child uses the fluoride toothpaste to make sure nothing (no amount) is swallowed. The rice size (or smear) is recommended for children up to 3 years old, and pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste recommended for children age 3 to 6-years-old.
- In some cases, when child develops a cavity, your child’ dentist can recommend to use a filling material which contains time-release fluoride. This treatment might prevent appearance of future cavities and the need for future treatments.
- Another great option that might be recommended by pediatric dentist is topical fluoride. This preventive treatment is applied to tooth enamel, and can be used in different forms:
- Fluoride gels and foams in tray, which are held to teeth for about four minutes,
- Fluoride varnishes that are painted on the teeth, and left for couple hours for more intense fluoride treatment. Fluoride varnishes usually recommended for children with a high risk of tooth decay.
If you have any question or concerns regarding the fluoride sources for your child, the needs of fluoride supplements, and your options for the fluoride treatment if recommended, please contact our qualified and experienced specialists at Children’s Dentistry. We will take all the factors into consideration before choosing the optimal recommendation for your child!