How Fluoride Can Benefit Your Child

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element which has been shown to prevent tooth decay by 50% to 70%. Despite the advantages, too much fluoride can be bad for the teeth causing dental fluorosis.  Dental fluorosis is usually a white chalky discoloration of the teeth, but can also be a brown discoloration in more advanced cases. Too little fluoride can also be bad for the teeth causing them to be weaker and less resistant to tooth decay. 

What ways can I use fluoride to benefit my dental health? 

Fluoride can be taken two different ways to help strengthen teeth. The first is externally, by using a toothpaste containing fluoride. The amount the individual should use depends upon the age. For the ages up to three years old a smear of toothpaste, a grain of rice size, should be used. For ages three years and older, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used, NOT what they show you on TV COMMERCIALS!  The ADA recommends that after brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste spit out the excess toothpaste and DO NOT RINSE your mouth with water. Rinsing your mouth with water after you brush your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste removes the fluoride from the teeth. You want the fluoride from the toothpaste to soak into your teeth and make them stronger. You don’t want to rinse it right off.  There are different types of fluoride toothpaste that the dentist can recommend, such as stannous fluoride or sodium fluoride.  These are found in both over-the-counter and  prescription toothpastes.

*Does the dentist have stronger versions of fluoride to help me get less cavities? 

Of course the dentist has stronger versions then over-the-counter toothpaste to help prevent cavities.  It is especially important to have the fluoride applied after your dental cleanings when that tooth is more porous and will more easily soak up the stronger fluoride the dentist uses. The dentist can apply different types of fluoride such as a fluoride gel or varnish depending upon patient needs and wants.

How often should I come for my dental fluoride applications?

How often a patient should receive their dental fluoride applications depends upon how prone the individual is to getting tooth decay, their gum health and daily habits. A patient can come up to every three months for professional fluoride applications to help strengthen weakened teeth. 

Should my child take daily prescription dental fluoride supplements? 

The dentist may prescribe a daily dental supplement for your child depending upon where you live and how easily they get cavities. The current ADA recommendations for fluoride supplements are much more conservative than in past years because of an increase in dental fluorosis in children. Dental fluorosis is permanent.  The staining does not go away.

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