Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally. It has been shown to help prevent dental decay when used routinely and in small amounts. In fact, fluoride has been added to our nation’s water supply since the 1940s (known as water fluoridation), and has lowered dental decay rates by over 50 percent – this means that fewer children have grown up with cavities over the past half-century as a result of water fluoridation. Fluoride is found in many other dental products including toothpaste, mouth rinses, gels and varnish. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding fluoride and its uses in dentistry. If you have any additional questions regarding fluoride, be sure to ask Dr. Baker.
How does fluoride prevent cavities?
Fluoride helps to remineralize/strengthen tooth enamel, and inhibits the ability of cavity causing bacteria to stick to tooth surfaces.
Is fluoride safe?
There have been many scientific studies that have been conducted on fluoride and it uses in dentistry, and it has been proven to be both safe and effective (when used appropriately and in safe dosages). Keep fluoride containing dental products out of the reach of young children as it can be harmful if large amounts of fluoride are consumed. Too much exposure to fluoride at a young age can lead to fluorosis, which is when fluoride embeds into the tooth’s enamel, which can cause white or brownish specks, streaks or holes. Fluorosis is not harmful, however, it can make teeth look discolored and even unaesthetic (in severe cases).
How much fluoridated toothpaste can my child use?
For children under the age of 3 years, use no more than a “smear” amount of fluoridated toothpaste. For children over the age of 3 years, use a “pea-size” amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
Which type of fluoridated toothpaste should my child use?
Your child should use a fluoridated toothpaste twice daily (morning and night) with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. Parents should keep the toothpaste in a safe place, and dispense the appropriate amount to avoid children from swallowing an excessive amount of fluoride.