If you have a young child, you’ve probably read or been told that fluoride is a vital part of their oral healthcare routine. But is it OK for kids? Here, we’ll explain what fluoride is, how it protects teeth, how you ingest fluoride, and if it’s safe for your children.
What Is Fluoride & How Does It Protect Teeth?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water and foods that helps to fight and protect teeth against decay. When children ingest the right amount of this mineral before their teeth have erupted from their gums, it strengthens their tooth enamel. This is considered a systemic benefit of fluoride. When it is ingested or applied after teeth have erupted, it remineralizes the enamel (or adds back necessary minerals that have been removed due to bacteria in the mouth) to strengthen it and reverse early decay. This is considered a topical benefit.
What Are Sources of Fluoride?
For the past 70 years, fluoride has been added to public water supplies in order to strengthen children’s teeth and prevent decay. About 25% fewer children suffer from tooth decay thanks to community water fluoridation! Another source includes fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash, but these are NOT to be ingested like water.
Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?
Fluoride is perfectly safe for children and is one of the best ways to reduce the occurrence of tooth decay. Notwithstanding, there are some circumstances in which you want to be careful how much your child ingests. For example, you should only use a small dab of fluoride toothpaste, no larger than a grain of rice, when brushing the teeth of your children younger than three. Children three to six can use a pea-sized dollop. Similarly, mouthwash should only be used by children if prescribed by their dentist. It’s important that your children not swallow toothpaste or mouthwash because too much fluoride could lead to fluorosis, which are white specks or streaks that appear on the teeth. However, fluorosis is uncommon. You should not have to worry about this cosmetic condition as long as you monitor your child’s fluoride intake by supervising their oral hygiene routine.
Bring Your Family to See Us!
In addition to caring for your child’s teeth at home, start bringing your child to the dentist before they turn one. This first dentist visit is a perfect opportunity to discuss your child’s fluoride intake with our expert team. Contact us today to schedule appointments for your entire family at Growing Smiles Pediatric and Family Dentistry.