The Importance of Fluoride

People often talk about fluoride being important for the dental health of young children. That’s because fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque. It does this by remineralizing the tooth’s top layer, or enamel. Each day, minerals are lost from enamel by acid. Fluoride found in foods and water redeposits the enamel.

When Is Fluoride Intake Most Critical?

Fluoride is important in children under six years of age, since fluoride strengthens developing teeth. Exposure to fluoride is particularly important for infants beginning at 6 months, since this is when the primary and permanent teeth come in.

In addition, many people at increased risk of tooth decay would benefit from additional fluoride treatment. They include people with:

* Crowns, bridges and/or braces: The area where the crown, appliance, or bracket meets the tooth structure increases the chances for plaque to form.

*  Dry mouth: Caused by certain medical conditions or medications. The lack of saliva makes it harder for food particles to be washed away and acids to be neutralized.

*  Gum Disease: Gingivitis can expose more of your tooth and tooth roots to bacteria, thus increasing the
opportunities for tooth decay.

*  History of frequent cavities: One cavity every year or every other year is a sign you might benefit from
additional fluoride.

Forms of Fluoride

In addition to occurring in certain foods and water, fluoride can also be directly applied to the teeth
through fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. Lower strength mouth rinses are available over-the-counter; stronger concentrations of fluoride require a dentist’s prescription. If a much higher level of fluoride is needed, a dentist can apply fluoride as a gel, foam, or varnish.

Important Reminders About Fluoride

Fluoride is safe and effective when used as directed, but it can be harmful at high doses. So it’s important for parents to supervise their child’s use of fluoride-containing products and keep them out of reach of young children.

Kids age 6 and under should only use only a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste on their toothbrush, since they’re more likely to swallow toothpaste at this age instead of spitting it out.

If you have any further questions about fluoride use, treatments, or fluoridated water, please give us a call.

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