What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is everywhere. It is in the water your child drinks, in the toothpaste he or she uses, and even in mouthwashes, but what is it?

We will take a look at exactly what fluoride is and why it is an important part of your child’s dental care.

Fluoride is Like a Superhero That Fights Cavities

Think of fluoride as a cavity fighting superhero. Without exposure to enough fluoride, your teeth are left weak. Weak teeth are extremely susceptible to tooth decay. If left untreated, tooth decay over time can cause cavities.

Fluoride helps naturally fight cavities by building up the strength of the enamel on your child’s teeth. The enamel is the outer surface of the tooth. It provides your child’s teeth with the structure and stability he or she needs to talk and chew. The stronger your child’s tooth enamel is the more resistant your child’s teeth will be to acid attacks and bacteria that can cause tooth decay and cavities.

Early Signs of Tooth Decay can be Reversed with Fluoride

Even children who brush and floss on a regular basis may show signs of early tooth decay. Fluoride can help reverse the early signs of tooth decay and prevent gum disease or cavities from forming.

Each and every time your child’s teeth are exposed to fluoride it starts to slowly rebuild any weakened enamel. This process is called remineralization. The fluoride targets specific weakened points on the tooth’s surface and rebuilds it so it is strong enough to fight against tooth decay.

While fluoride does help to reverse early signs of tooth decay, it cannot completely eliminate tooth decay. If your child has extensive tooth decay or the enamel on his or her teeth is severely damaged, fluoride treatments may not be enough. In situations like this, a pediatric dentist can provide treatment recommendations that will help improve your child’s oral health.

Find Fluoride in the Water Your Child Drinks

Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found in almost all rivers, lakes, and oceans. Unfortunately, when public water companies filter water to get it to your home, the natural fluoride is eliminated. In an effort to improve the oral health of your child and yourself, most public water suppliers have started to add additional fluoride to the water. Additional fluoride increases fluoride levels so your child has some protection against tooth decay.

Additional Fluoride can be Found in Toothpastes and Mouthwashes

Parents who are concerned about their child not getting enough fluoride can purchase toothpastes and mouthwashes that have been fortified with additional fluoride.

If you use fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes with your child, it is important you keep these tips in mind:

  • Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Make sure your child spits out all the toothpaste
  • Use the proper amount of toothpaste for your child’s age. Children three and under should only have a small smear of toothpaste that looks like a grain of rice on their toothbrush, while children three to six should have a pea sized smear.
  • Use fluoride mouthwash only if your child is six years old or older. Younger children are likely to swallow it.
  • Purchase fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash that has an ADA Seal of Acceptance on it

Consider a Fluoride Supplement

Some areas don’t put additional fluoride into the community drinking water. This leaves children extremely susceptible to tooth decay as the enamel doesn’t get built up from the fluoride. People who live in these areas may want to consider fluoride supplements.

Fluoride supplements are available by prescription only. Typically, fluoride supplements are prescribed for children between the ages of six months and 16 years who are at high risk for cavities and who do not have regular access to fluoride enhanced water. They can be prescribed by a dentist or family doctor and come in tablet, lozenge, or drop form.

Fluoride Treatments are Administered at Routine Dental Checkups

Fluoride treatments are often administered as part of your child’s routine dental checkup. Professional application of fluoride can be done a number of different ways. Dentists can apply a fluoride gel or form directly to the teeth or they can administer a fluoride rinse. The type of fluoride treatment your child receives will depend upon their age.

The dentists and dental staff at The Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida are willing to answer any further questions you may have about fluoride. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.