The Benefits of Fluoride in Children
Fluoride is an amazing element. It is a key ingredient in Teflon as well as America’s favorite antidepressant, Prozac, but fluoride is also essential to everyone’s dental health. In the 1940s most US cities began to fluoridate their public water supplies. Fluoridation of water is, in fact, one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. In the year 2000, a study was completed that the fluoridation of drinking water has helped reduce the instance of decayed teeth in children on average of 2.25 teeth per child. However fluoridated water is only effective when it is in the mouth after teeth have erupted, therefore it must be supplemented with other fluoridated products.
Fluoride in toothpaste and mouth rinses are important
In addition to fluoride available in public water supplies, fluoride can also be found in toothpaste, mouth rinses, and specialty foams and gels. The fluoride in these applications is usually found in the form of sodium fluoride. Sodium fluoride is essential in the formation of fluorapatite, which replaces the lost hydroxyapatite in tooth enamel when decay occurs. Tooth enamel is incredibly susceptible to demineralization and decay from the bacteria present in plaque. The bacteria in plaque feed off of the sugars present in the foods that we eat. The best way to combat both tooth decay and demineralization is by the daily use of a fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse.
Drinking water with fluoride will benefit children
Once children’s baby teeth have erupted, they are susceptible to decay. Fluoride will not only remineralize tooth enamel once decay has started, but it will also help strengthen their tooth enamel. By simply drinking fluoridated water, children will help gain protection for their teeth. However, in this day and age, most people rely on bottled water that does not contain fluoride. If children are to drink bottled water, please make sure that it contains a source of fluoride to help strengthen their teeth in this important developmental stage. Once children are around the age of 3 or are able to fully spit out the remaining toothpaste after brushing their teeth, begin using fluoridated toothpaste.
Key things to remember with children and fluoride
- Only use an ADA accepted fluoride toothpaste
- Only use a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste
- Consult your dentist about when it is appropriate to use fluoridated mouth rinses
- Children under 2 should not use fluoridated toothpaste
- Overexposure to fluoride could lead to fluorosis
- Always supervise children when they are using fluoridated products
- Fluoride is completely safe when used properly