What is Dental Fluoride?
Dental Fluoride is an important mineral that can help prevent cavities and strengthen the enamel of your child’s teeth. Systemic fluoride is ingested and can be found naturally in water and many foods. Topical dental fluoride coats the teeth and is added to most toothpastes and mouthwashes. It is important that you child is exposed to both types of fluoride to ensure the development of strong and healthy teeth.
Why is fluoride important for healthy teeth?
When bacteria in the mouth combines with sugars from food and drinks, a harmful acid that attacks tooth enamel is produced. Fluoride acts like a protective coating for your child’s teeth and helps prevent the decay caused by this acid. Fluoride can even reverse the early signs of decay. Fluoride also helps to strengthen the enamel of developing teeth making them less susceptible to cavities. In children under the age of 6, fluoride is actually incorporated into the development of permanent teeth resulting in long-lasting benefits.
When should your child begin using dental fluoride?
It is important that your child be exposed to fluoride at an early age. Water can be an excellent source of fluoride for young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dental Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all agree that drinking fluoridated water is a safe and effective way to ensure children of all ages receive the dental health benefits of fluoride. According to the American Dental Association, it is also safe to mix infant formula with fluoridated water if you choose to do so. By making sure that your child drinks plenty of water you will help protect his or her developing teeth. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children ages 2-5 begin using topical fluoride by brushing with a “pea-sized” amount of fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. Guidelines regarding the use of fluoride toothpaste for children under the age of 2 vary, so it is important to discuss what is best for you child with his or her dentist. As your child grows, his or her dentist may recommend the use of fluoride rinses and professional fluoride treatments applied at well office visits.
Because some children are more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay, the recommendations regarding fluoride use may vary. Follow the guidelines given by your child’s pediatric dentist, and discuss any concerns you may have.