Children & Fluoride
What is fluoride and what does it do?
Fluoride, a substance found in many water sources, helps to prevent tooth decay. It can even catch and reverse tooth decay during its early stages by incorporating into the developing teeth’s structure, as well as protecting the surface of the teeth.
Do children need fluoride?
Fluoride for children is particularly important, as tooth decay remains one of the most common childhood diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about a fifth of 5- to 11-year-olds and one in seven 12- to 19-year-olds have one or more decayed teeth. The vast benefits of fluoride for kids include protected enamel and reduced risk of tooth decay, making fluoride a crucial part of preventive oral health care.
How much fluoride do kids actually need?
Generally, children under the age of 6 months old don’t need fluoride supplements. After your child reaches 6 months of age, it’s time to discuss the topic with your paediatrician. That said, we do not recommend using fluoridated toothpaste until your child is old enough to spit it out after brushing. Swallowing too much toothpaste at an early age can lead to fluorosis.
Fluorosis is a cosmetic dental condition caused by fluoride overexposure during a child’s developmental years. The effects of fluorosis can range from mild discoloration of the teeth to dark stains and surface irregularities.
After the age of 3, children who are able to spit, can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when brushing their teeth. At this age, it’s still a good idea for parents to help young children brush their teeth to make sure they’re not swallowing fluoridated toothpaste.
From the age of 6 years old and up, children at heightened risk of tooth decay may benefit from using mouth rinses containing fluoride.
If your water supply doesn’t contain fluoridated water, your dentist may recommend administering supplements to make sure your child is consuming the optimal amount for enamel protection. Supplements typically come in the form of tablets, pastes, topical gels or mouth rinses.
What are some sources of fluoride?
Fortunately, kids have plenty of opportunities to get a healthy dose of fluoride every day. Fluoride for children commonly comes from one or more of these sources:
- Fluoridated water: Fluoridated tap water or bottled water is estimated to reduce tooth decay by up to 40%.
- Toothpaste and mouth rinse with fluoride: Fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinses are very common. Use these with caution to make sure your child doesn’t swallow the substance.
- Topical treatment: Gels and creams containing fluoride are generally recommended for children with a high rate of cavities, or those who are wearing braces or retainers. Topical creams and gels can be applied after brushing and flossing.
- Balanced diet: The importance of a balanced diet can’t be overstated! Vitamin D and calcium offer an extra layer of defence against tooth decay.
For more information or to book an appointment, contact a Dental Choice clinic near you. We’re here to help.