When it comes to the oral health of your child, you’ve probably heard about the importance of fluoride. You may have also heard a few arguments against it. At our pediatric dental office in Chattanooga, we want to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about fluoride, what it is, why it’s crucial for growing smiles, and yes, even discuss a few risks.
Fluoride is a mineral that’s found in nature, specifically in soil, water, plants, and the air we breathe. In the world of dentistry, fluoride is used to help strengthen tooth enamel and protect teeth against decay and cavities. It can also help repair early decay caused by demineralization.
Demineralization occurs when acids from bacteria and foods linger around and begin to eat away at the protective layer of enamel. But enamel isn’t the only thing affected during demineralization. Our teeth can also lose minerals such as calcium, phosphate, and fluoride. These minerals are essential to keeping our teeth tough, strong, and fighting off decay – so it’s important to replace them either through the foods we eat or from fluoride treatment from your Chattanooga pediatric dentist.
Nearly everyone’s smile can benefit from fluoride, and it’s not just for kids. However, fluoride may be more commonly used on children ages 5-17 when teeth are developing. Your pediatric dentist in Chattanooga will most likely recommend that your child receives a fluoride treatment at every dental appointment to help build strong teeth and protect against cavities. These treatments are typically either a varnish, foam, or gel that are applied in the dental office.
Besides having your dental team apply a fluoride treatment, there are other ways you can help your child get enough fluoride. Most public water supplies have added fluoride and it can be found in some foods you eat. There’s also fluoride in many kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash. Fluoride supplements are also available and may be recommended if you don’t have fluoridated water or if your child needs an extra boost of fluoride.
Fluoride is safe for children in recommended amounts, which will vary based on things such as risk, need, and age. However, fluoride can be hazardous if it’s used too much. This risk is extremely low as it’s extremely difficult to expose your child to dangerous levels of fluoride through fluoridated water, toothpaste, and fluoride treatments from your dentist. A good rule of thumb is to remember to always follow your dentist’s recommendations, don’t allow your child to swallow toothpaste or mouthwash, and monitor their brushing habits at home.
If you’re unsure if fluoride is right for your child or if you have questions about fluoride, we welcome you to call our Chattanooga pediatric dental office and schedule a visit. We’re here to help!