Fluoride is a natural mineral that builds strong teeth and prevents cavities. It’s essential for oral health, as it supports healthy tooth enamel and fights the bacteria that harm teeth and gums.
Fluoride is especially helpful if your child is at high risk of developing dental caries, or cavities. Fluoride works by restoring minerals to tooth surfaces where bacteria may have eroded the enamel. It can also inhibit the growth of harmful oral bacteria and further prevent cavities. Cavities occur when bacteria build up on teeth and gums and form a sticky layer of plaque.
Fluoride benefits both children and adults. The earlier children are exposed to fluoride, the less likely they are to develop cavities. A large study found that children and adolescents who received fluoride treatments for one year were 43% less likely to have tooth decay and cavities.
Types of Fluoride
Topical fluoride is for the existing teeth or current teeth in the mouth. An example of topical fluoride is the fluoride treatment your child gets at our San Jose pediatric dental office after their teeth cleaning. These professional fluoride treatments are in the form of a highly concentrated foam or varnish, pleasantly flavored with strawberry or watermelon. The fluoride is applied with a swab or brush.
These treatments have much more fluoride than what is in your water or toothpaste. They only take a few minutes to apply. Your child should not eat or drink for 30 minutes after the treatment so the fluoride can fully absorb.
Systemic fluoride benefits the developing permanent teeth that will be replacing the primary teeth in the future. Systemic fluoride is fluoride in the water or fluoride supplements in the form of pills or drops.
Fluoride at Home
If your child is under three years of age, they should only brush their teeth with close supervision. Apply only a thin layer of fluoride toothpaste to their toothbrush. The toothpaste should cover less than half of the bristles or be no bigger than a grain of rice.
Fluoride toothpaste the size of a pea is recommended for children ages three to six years old. You should watch children to ensure they spit the toothpaste out after brushing.
If you have any questions about fluoride and your child’s oral health, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Taheri, Dr. Naderi, or Dr. Sadeghi during your child’s next visit to Dentistry for Children and Young Adults.