The Importance of Fluoride for Oral Health
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element in teeth. It is essential for the development of teeth, as well as for providing them protection against harmful bacteria and plaque acids that cause cavities. Fluoride is lost every day, due to exposure to acidic foods, beverages, and oral bacteria. It can, however, be replenished. While fluoride can be found in foods, treated water, and certain oral care products, sometimes, your child does not get the necessary fluoride to keep their teeth safe and healthy. Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry can help.
The Role of Fluoride
The teeth are the hardest substance in the body, but they are not impervious to damage. The enamel, the outer layer of the teeth, is susceptible to acid erosion. This is true of your teeth and the teeth of your child. These acids can come from the foods your child eats and the beverages they drink. Acids are also a byproduct of oral bacteria, which occur naturally, and acids are produced when the bacteria eat sugars that are lingering in the mouth. When the acids are left on the surface of the teeth too long, erosion (decay) occurs and cavities form. Brushing and flossing are essential for removing oral bacteria, plaque, and other acids. Because they often have a more difficult time properly brushing their teeth, children are more susceptible to facing cavities. Fluoride works to protect the teeth by joining with their crystalline structure. When this happens, the teeth become stronger and more resistant to the damages caused by acid.
Where Is Fluoride Found?
There are several forms in which fluoride can be found. It can be found in trace amounts of some fresh produce. Treated tap water often has fluoride added. Fluoride supplements are commercially available, designed for young children and those who do not have access to treated water. There are also numerous oral care products available for daily use.
Developing teeth receive their fluoride under the gums. Fully exposed teeth can absorb fluoride directly through the surface of the teeth. Using fluoridated products such as toothpaste and mouthwash helps to ensure that your child gets the necessary fluoride to effectively protect the teeth against acid erosion. Children aged 2 to 6 should only use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Children younger than two should only use a rice-sized amount.
Along with fluoridated oral care products, we can provide your child with fluoride treatments. These treatments are applied at regular dental cleanings and exams. The process is simple, quick, and completely painless. We paint a fluoride treatment to the surfaces of the teeth, and it then absorbs into the enamel. Fluoride also gathers at the gumline and can protect new teeth as they begin to erupt. For the best results, no food or drinks should be consumed for approximately 30 minutes following treatment.
Can My Child Get Too Much Fluoride?
Fluoride is an essential element for the development and protection of teeth, but there is such a thing as too much. If your child receives too much fluoride, although rare, it can result in fluorosis. This causes white spots to form on the surfaces of the permanent teeth. In some instances, a darker discoloration may occur. While the condition is not harmful, it can affect the appearance of the smile. The risk of fluorosis is highest when your child is young, and starts to decrease following the development of their permanent teeth (usually around the age of 9). We can help you to determine how much fluoride your child needs, and ensure that they are getting the amount they need without getting too much.
If you are interested in learning more about fluoride treatments for your child, contact Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry at (316) 202-9629 today.