Fluoride is a compound that contains fluorine, a natural element. Using small amounts of Fluoride on a routine basis can help prevent tooth decay. In areas where Fluoride does not occur naturally, it may be added to community water supplies. Research shows that community water fluoridation has lowered decay rates by over 50 percent, which means that fewer children grow up with cavities. Fluoride can be found as an active ingredient in many dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rings, gels and varnish.
Fluoride inhibits loss of minerals from tooth enamel and encourages remineralisation (strengthening areas that are weakened and beginning to develop cavities). Fluoride also affects bacteria that cause cavities, discouraging acid attacks that break down the tooth. Risk for decay is reduced even more when Fluoride is combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.
The pediatric dentist considers many factors before recommending a Fluoride supplement. You child’s age, risk of developing dental decay and dietary sources of Fluoride are important considerations. Infant formulas contain different amounts of Fluoride. Bottled, filtered, and well waters also vary in the amount of Fluoride they contain. Your pediatric dentist can help determine if your child is receiving- and not exceeding0 the recommended amount.
Using Fluoride for the prevention and control of decay is proven to be both safe and effective. Nevertheless, products containing Fluoride should be stored out of the reach of young children. Too much Fluoride could cause fluorosis of developing permanent teeth. Fluorosis usually is mild, with tiny white specks or streaks that are often unnoticeable. In severe cases of fluorosis, the enamel may be pitted with brown discoloration. Development of fluorosis depends on the amount, duration and timing of excessive Fluoride intake. The appearance of teeth affected by fluorosis can be greatly improved by a variety of treatment in esthetic dentistry.
Your child should use a toothpaste with Fluoride and the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. Brushing twice a day (after breakfast and before bedtime) provides greater benefits than brushing once daily. Parents should dispense toothpaste to prevent their young children from swallowing too much.
How much toothpaste should my child use?
For children under two-years-old, use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. For those aged 2-5 years, a pea-sized amount is recommended.
Topical Fluoride is a preventive agent applied to tooth enamel. It comes ina number of different forms. A dental professional places gels or forms in trays that are held against the teeth for up to 4 minutes. Fluoride varnish is brushed or “painted” on the enamel. Varnish is especially useful for young patients and those with special needs who may not tolerate Fluoride trays.
Children who benefit the most from Fluoride are those at highest risk for decay. Risk factors include a history of previous cavities, a diet high in sugar or carbohydrates, orthodontic appliances, and certain medical conditions such as dry mouth.
Content provided from the AAPD, a not-for-profit membership association representing the specialty of pediatric dentistry. The AAPD's 7,500 members are primary oral health care providers who offer comprehensive specialty treatment for millions of infants, children, adolescents, and individuals with special health care needs. The AAPD also represents general dentists who treat a significant number of children in their practices. As advocates for children's oral health, the AAPD develops and promotes evidence-based policies and guidelines, fosters research, contributes to scholarly work concerning pediatric oral health, and educates health care providers, policymakes, and the public on ways to improve children's oral health. For further information, please visit the AAPD Web site at www.aapd.org