Healthy Living

Why Fluoride is Essential for Healthy Teeth

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally and it’s found in drinking water, certain foods and in toothpaste. Pediatric dentists often get asked if children need fluoride. In fact it’s important that all children receive sufficient fluoride and here’s why.

<p><strong>Fluoride Helps Prevent Tooth Decay</strong><br />Tooth decay is a real problem in kids and we often see children with cavities in their milk teeth that could easily have been prevented and fluoride is an important weapon against childhood caries. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth use sugars or carbohydrates as an energy source, creating acid that softens tooth enamel, eventually damaging teeth. <a href="https://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and-fluoridation/fluoridation-faq">Fluoride</a> helps protect teeth from acid and it can even help reverse some of the earliest signs of tooth decay through re-hardening the enamel and helping to replace some of the lost minerals.</p> <p><br /><strong>So How Much Fluoride Should My Child Be Using?</strong><br />This is something Dr. Marina Krepkh or any of our pediatric dentists here at the <a href="http://www.kidsbestdentistnyc.com/">Kids Dentistry Center</a> can advise you on. Initially, with very young children who have only just got their first one or two teeth, we might advise using non-fluoridated toothpaste until they develop the ability to spit out the excess. However children who are able to spit out the excess should be using fluoride toothpaste.</p> <p><br />You only need a pea-sized amount on a child sized toothbrush and once they have finished brushing get them to spit out the excess paste but there is no need for them to rinse their mouth. This allows any toothpaste remaining on the teeth to provide a little extra protection. Making sure your child drinks plenty of tap water would also help ensure they obtain a good amount of fluoride.</p> <p><br /><strong>What Happens If My Child Needs a Little Extra Fluoride?</strong><br />If we think your child will benefit from additional fluoride there are various treatments we can prescribe. Fluoride can be applied to the teeth in a number of different ways. One of the most common is to use mouth trays that are filled up with fluoride gel or foam and which your child will need to wear for several minutes in our dental office.</p> <p><br />Another treatment involves painting fluoride onto the newly cleaned surfaces of their teeth. The fluoride varnish is left in place for a few hours or overnight as this gives it plenty of time to penetrate the tooth enamel providing maximum benefit. Afterwards the fluoride varnish is simply brushed off. Additionally, we can also prescribe fluoride supplements.</p> <p><br /><strong>Is It Possible to Have Too Much Fluoride?</strong><br />Yes it is but this would be unlikely to cause any damage to the teeth. The main problem is that excess fluoride can cause something called <a href="https://www.webmd.com/children/fluorosis-symptoms-causes-treatments#1">fluorosis</a> and will create white lacy flecks or brown stains over the tooth surfaces. This might look unsightly but isn&rsquo;t dangerous. It would be highly unlikely for a child to ingest toxic quantities of fluoride, but it does pay to make sure that you keep your fluoride toothpaste and any fluoride mouthwash out of their reach until they are old enough to understand it isn&rsquo;t for eating.</p> <p><br />We do assess each child&rsquo;s need for fluoride individually so please ask us for more help and advice when you next book your kid in for a checkup.</p>

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