During a regular dental checkup, you may be surprised to hear the dentist asking about your water supply after checking your child’s teeth. It’s because fluoride, other than being an active ingredient in toothpaste, is also naturally present in water.
The naturally occurring fluoride in water is actually very important for the development of healthy teeth and cavity prevention in children.
What Is Fluoride?
- Fluoride is derived from fluorine, a very common element present in the Earth’s crust, which is why it is naturally present in drinking water sources. Fluoride is important for healthy teeth because it is a well established and researched backed fact that the element can prevent tooth decay and even reverse the early stages of the oral health problem.
Tooth decay occurs when plaque on teeth starts to break down the sugars in food. The bacteria from the food produces acid that starts to dissolve the enamel of the tooth. If this damage is not treated in time, the bacteria penetrates through the enamel and it results in cavities.
Cavities can weaken the teeth and this can lead to pain, infection, and finally, tooth loss. Fluoride is important because it can in preventing cavities in two ways.
- When fluoride is ingested through tap water or bottled water (not by swallowing the toothpaste), it incorporates itself into the structure of the teeth, especially in young children.
- The element also protects the surface of the teeth when it comes to direct contact.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay is still the most common disease in children. So it is very important to visit the dentist regularly and check the fluoride level of your water supply and toothpaste.
How Much Fluoride Do Kids Need?
Now that you know how important fluoride is for developing teeth, just exactly how much children should get it? According to dentists, kids who are under the age of 6 months do not need fluoride or its supplements.
- When your child turns 6 months old, it is a good idea to visit Icon Dental Center and talk to one of our pediatric dentists for your child’s fluoride needs. This is especially important if you are living in a neighborhood where the water supply is non-fluoridated.
- If you live in such an area, the dentist or doctor may even prescribe fluoride drops, vitamins, or tablets to help your baby develop healthy teeth. The dosage of fluoride depends a lot on how much natural fluoride your child is getting and what their age is.
- If your child is not getting fluoride naturally from water sources, then supplements may be needed for optimal oral health. Here are other ways you can ensure that your child is getting sufficient fluoride.
- Introduce a fluoride-containing toothpaste and let your children brush their teeth with it. Make sure they are only using toothpaste that is the size of a grain of rice. This is especially true if your child is 6 months old. Too much toothpaste while brushing can easily be swallowed by children. Make sure to supervise them and teach them to spit the toothpaste instead of swallowing it.
- Check the concentration of fluoride in the toothpaste. Some toothpaste is designed with extra fluoride and is meant to be used by adults only.
- You can also arrange for water fluoridation at home if your current water supply is lacking fluoride.
Dental care and fluoride needs for children is a complicated topic. A lot of parents are unaware of how much fluoride their kids need for the healthy development of teeth. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends visiting the dentist every sixth month.
A pediatric dentist is a great resource for information. They can provide your child with the dental care they need. They will also help you understand how fluoride plays an important part in the health of teeth. You may also get a recommendation for applying a topical fluoride varnish during routine checkups.
Visit Icon Dental Center in Everett or Seattle today and we’ll help devise a plan that will help your child grow strong, bright and healthy teeth.