Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps to build strong teeth and is essential to good oral health. Fluoride helps your child’s teeth in many ways:
- Strengthens enamel in both baby and permanent teeth
- Strengthens bone development in teeth
- Reverses the effects of early tooth decay
- Prevents bacteria from growing on teeth
How does fluoride strengthen my child’s teeth?
Enamel is the outer layer of your teeth and is one of the strongest parts of your body. But, that doesn’t mean it is indestructible. When you eat certain foods, especially those high in carbohydrates or sugar, bacteria mingles with the food particles and produces acid that attacks the enamel. When your enamel is weakened, it leaves you more prone to decay.
But fluorida helps strengthen your child’s enamel. Saliva naturally works to wash away harmful bacteria that would otherwise attack your child’s teeth. And when that saliva is packed with fluoride, it works to replace the minerals on their enamel that the bacteria and acid have tried to wash away. Once fluoride works to penetrate your child’s enamel, it combines with the phosphate and calcium already present to create a defense system against cavities.
How can fluoride work to reverse early signs of decay?
If your child has early signs of decay, fluoride it’s the best defense to be able to stop the decay before it has a chance to spread. Fluoride can help your tooth remineralize – meaning your tooth can actually work to repair itself. Fluoride, when combined with the minerals found naturally in your teeth, can repair the tooth and help fend off future decay.
How can I ensure my child is getting enough fluoride?
Most people receive fluoride during their daily routine. The majority of municipal water supplies contain an ideal amount of fluoride, so drinking water from your tap is a great way to ensure your child is getting fluoride. Talk to your pediatric dentist about the correct type of fluoridated toothpaste your child should be using.
At Westgrove Dental, our pediatric dentist also usually recommends fluoride treatments for our younger patients, especially in those who are more prone to decay. Fluoride treatment is easy and safe, and provides an added layer of protection. It typically comes in a varnish form that is simply painted onto the teeth, and can be done every six months.
Is there such a thing as too much fluoride?
Yes – too much of a good thing can unfortunately become a bad thing. Too much fluoride can put your child at risk for a condition known as dental fluorosis. While not harmful, it can cause unseemly white spots on the teeth. Dental fluorosis occurs when too much fluoride pools under your child’s gums while teeth are still developing. The fluoride penetrates the permanent teeth that haven’t yet erupted. Risk for fluorosis goes away once all of the permanent teeth have erupted.
People of all ages benefit from fluoride in their drinking water and toothpaste, but none more than children. The right amount of fluoride can strengthen your child’s teeth and reduce their risk for decay and cavities.