Fluoride is a powerful tool in the fight against tooth decay. It works to counteract the effects of acid in the mouth that breaks down tooth enamel and to repair damage that has already occurred. Anyone, at any age, can benefit from fluoride, but it is even more important for children. Your child’s teeth are still developing, and fluoride helps to keep them strong.
Your child’s dentist or pediatrician can advise you about whether or not your child is getting enough fluoride, but it may help to know the different sources from which it is available.
1. At the Dentist’s
Your child’s dentist will often perform a fluoride treatment during his or her regular check-up and cleaning. Fluoride can be administered in one of three ways:
- Foam, which requires your child to bite down on a tray that looks like a mouthguard for a few minutes.
- Varnish, which is painted on the teeth directly
- Gel, which can be either painted on or administered with the use of a tray.
Each option contains a high concentration of fluoride compared to other sources, which is why it can only be administered once or twice a year.
2. At Home
Some dental care products, including toothpastes and mouthwashes, contain fluoride. Fluoridated toothpaste can be used at age 6 months when the first teeth typically start erupting. However, too much fluoride can cause as much of a problem as too little. When your baby is too young to spit out the toothpaste after brushing, it is important to use a smear on the toothbrush no bigger than a grain of rice. Older children require only a pea-sized smear of toothpaste and should be taught to spit it out. Refrain from giving your children fluoride mouthwash unless recommended by a dentist or doctor.
3. In the Water
Water contains fluoride naturally, but many communities also add fluoridation to drinking water as a public health measure to prevent tooth decay, which is estimated to be 20% to 40% effective in areas where fluoridation takes place. In some areas, however, the level of natural fluoridation is high enough that additional fortification is not necessary. Testing can reveal the level of fluoride in your drinking water.
4. With a Prescription
These measures are usually sufficient to ensure that most children get the fluoride they need. However, if your child is experiencing a fluoride deficiency, your doctor or dentist may recommend fluoride supplements. These typically take the form of tablets or drops and should be kept out of reach when not in use.
It is important that your child receive the right amount of fluoride, neither too much nor too little, to ensure dental health. Contact a kids orthodontist in Dana Point, CA for an evaluation.
Thanks to John Redmond Orthodontics for their insight into dental care and fluoride for children.