There are several terms and elements a parent of any young child should know to help promote their dental care, and fluoride is one of them. A valuable natural element that helps young mouths resist tooth decay and promotes strong oral development, fluoride is a widely-used material that can be produced for areas where it does not occur naturally.
At Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry, we offer a number of preventive pediatric dentistry services, including helping you understand fluoride and how beneficial it can be for your child. In this two-part blog, we’ll dig into all the basics you need to know about fluoride and the areas it assists with, its health and safety elements, plus some general tips for providing your child with additional sources of fluoride during their daily oral care routine.
Fluoride Basics and Statistics
Fluoride is a compound containing a natural element known as fluorine, one that’s known to help prevent tooth decay in major ways. This substance may be found in many community water supplies, but can also be given as an active ingredient in numerous dental product, such as toothpaste, gels, varnish, mouth rinses and others.
Research has shown that in communities where water is naturally fluoridated, tooth decay rates drop by over 50 percent. This is particularly valuable for young children, who are at much lower risk of developing cavities and tooth decay issues as their mouths develop if they’re exposed to fluoride early on in life.
So how does this process work? Well, fluoride works by blocking the loss of minerals from tooth enamel, minerals that are vital for protecting the teeth. At the same time, it promotes a process called remineralization, adding strength to weaker areas that may be at risk for developing cavities.
Finally, fluoride even has a direct impact on the harmful bacteria that cause cavities in the first place. It limits acid attacks that can threaten the tooth, especially when combined with a good diet and proper oral habits like brushing and flossing daily.
A common concern among certain subsets of the population is whether fluoride is safe, but this question has been answered several times over. Fluoride has been proven safe for prevention and control of tooth decay, though it should be noted that overconsumption of fluoride can lead to fluorosis, a mild condition that can lead to discoloration. But even this condition has several possible treatments to counteract it, and can be avoided by not vastly overusing fluoride products – it tends to take quite a bit of overuse to risk fluorosis. If you’re unsure about the amounts to give your child, speak to your children’s dentist for basic tips.
For more on fluoride, or to learn about any of our dental services, speak to the staff at Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry today.