Fluoride is Your Best Friend
Fluoride, which is often referred to as “nature’s cavity fighter” is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, including oceans. When it comes to good oral health, fluoride is an essential component. Studies have shown that not only can fluoride help to reduce cavities in both children and adults, but it can also help to repair the early stages of tooth decay. Fluoride is beneficial for teeth in two ways: when children consume small doses of fluoride it enters their bloodstream and then becomes a part of their developing adult teeth and when swallowed it also becomes mixed with saliva, which helps strengthen teeth from the outside.
Strengthens and Protects Teeth
Teeth have enamel covering that helps protect them from decay-causing bacteria. Fluoride plays an essential role in helping to keep the enamel strong in order to reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay. Before children’s teeth even break through their gums, fluoride that is found in foods, beverages and supplements help to harden the tooth enamel and once teeth erupt, both first and permanent teeth, fluoride helps to re-mineralize tooth enamel that has weakened, which reverses the signs of early tooth decay.
Where Do You Get Fluoride?
There are a number of different ways in which you can introduce fluoride to teeth, including:
- Topical products such as toothpaste and mouth rinses are the easiest, yet most beneficial ways to introduce fluoride to your teeth. It is important to start brushing children’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first tooth breaks through. It is also important to make sure kids use the right amount of toothpaste and that they spit out most of the toothpaste. Fluorinated mouth rinse should not be used by children under the age of 6. Be sure to talk with your dentist about the recommended amount of toothpaste for your children’s ages.
- Treatments can be applied directly on the teeth by your dentist. Treatments provided by the dentist have a higher strength than what is found in toothpaste and mouth rinses. Your dentist may also apply a sealer to for additional protection, especially for children who are in the early stages of tooth decay.
- Drink fluoridated water, which is typically found in tap water that is a city supplied water source.
What About Supplements?
Fluoridated supplements are available by prescription only. Your dentist will generally recommend a supplement for children that are aged 6-months to 16 years and that live in an area where the community water is lacking an adequate amount of fluoride. Community water that does not have the recommended amount of fluoride can increase the risk of developing cavities, so be sure to talk with your dentist about the specific needs of your children.
One of the most common questions dentists are asked is “is fluoride safe”? The short answer is yes, it is safe for both children and adults. Unfortunately, there is often misinformation that gets passed from person to person about how safe it is to add this mineral to community water supplies. The good news is that research has found that fluoride has a significant effect on reducing the risk of tooth decay, especially with children. In fact, since it was first introduced as an addition to drinking water, there has been a dramatic decline in tooth decay among children in the communities where fluorinated water is available.
If you have questions or concerns about fluoride and its benefits, contact Premier Dental Care to schedule an appointment for a consultation.