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Fluoride contains fluorine, a natural compound which is effective at minimizing tooth decay and cavities in children. Fluoride remains an important ingredient in many leading brands of toothpaste, mouthwash, and oral gel, and is also present in most community water supplies. Though fluoride is critical to a successful dental care routine, overconsumption can lead to a condition known as fluorosis. The pediatric dentist examines fluoride levels and ensures that children are getting the right amount.

How can fluoride prevent tooth decay?

There two dental functions that fluoride performs. First, it prevents loss of minerals from tooth enamel, and second, it encourages the remineralization of tooth enamel.

When we consume (sugars) carbohydrates, oral bacteria feed on them and release harmful acids which attack and erode tooth enamel – especially in children who are on medication or who produce less saliva. The continuous attack causes tooth decay, cavities, and childhood periodontal disease. Fluoride reduces the risk of childhood tooth decay and also protects tooth enamel from acid attacks.

Fluoride works effectively, especially when added as to a good oral hygiene routine. Flossing and brushing regularly, reducing sugar intake, and consulting the pediatric dentist biannually, all make fluoride to be more effective and ensure a healthy teeth.

How much fluoride is enough?

Since fluoride is usually present in toothpaste and community water, it’s important that overconsumption does not occur in children. Therefore, children who are under the age of two should use ADA-approved, non-fluoridated toothpaste brand. Children who are five years of age or younger should make use of a pea-sized amount of ADA-approved fluoridated toothpaste, two times daily. They should be made to spit out any extra fluid after brushing. This might some time, practice and encouragement.

The amount of fluoride ingested by children who are four years of age or younger determines whether they will develop fluorosis in the future. Fluorosis is mostly characterized by white specs on the permanent teeth. Even though children are over eight years old do not seem to be at risk of developing fluorosis, they are still advised to use toothpaste brands that are ADA-approved.

Does my child need fluoride supplements?

The pediatric dentist is in the best position to determine whether a child would require fluoride supplements. First, the dentist asks some questions to determine the amount of fluoride a child currently receives, gains a general health history, and get an idea of the sugar content in the diet of the child. If a child is at risk for tooth decay as a result of insufficient amount of fluoride, the dentist might recommend an at-home fluoride supplement.

The dentist can also apply topical fluoride o the enamel of the tooth painlessly and quickly during a regular office visit. There are various forms of topical fluoride that have proven to be convenient, including gels, foam, varnishes, and liquids.  Depending on the child’s age and their level of cooperation, topical fluoride can either painted on the teeth with a brush or held on for several minutes in specialized trays.

For questions about fluorosis and fluoride, please get in touch with our office.

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