Importance of Fluoride for Oral Health
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral and is essential for proper tooth development and the prevention of tooth decay. Most of us have access to fluoride in our drinking water; however, it may not be a sufficient amount. That's one reason why we recommend a fluoride supplement for your child and/or the use of toothpastes and other dental products that contain this important mineral. Our pediatric dentist, at Children’s Dentistry of DuPont, can assess and advise if your child needs more exposure to fluoride to ensure a healthy mouth. Continue reading below for all the specifics about fluoride.
How Fluoride Helps
The protective outer layer of teeth, called enamel, is often subject to attacks from acids, which can be found in certain foods and beverages like sodas and citrus fruits. Additionally, sometimes decay-causing bacteria trapped in the mouth can create acid from sugar. This bacteria congregates in dental plaque and feeds on sugar that is not cleansed from your child's mouth. When the sugar is metabolized, or broken down, the bacteria produce acids that can eat through tooth enamel. This is how cavities are formed. When fluoride is present, it becomes part of the crystalline structure of tooth enamel, hardening the enamel and making it more resistant to acid attacks. Fluoride can even help repair small cavities that are already forming.
Delivering Fluoride to the Teeth
Children can ingest fluoride through drinking water or supplements, this will then be absorbed by their newly developing permanent teeth. Once a tooth has erupted, it can be strengthened by fluoride topically (on the surface). Current guidelines from the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend using a smear or grain of rice sized amount for children 6 months to 3 years of age and a small pea sized amount for children 3 to 6 years of age. Fluoride toothpaste should not be used on children less than six months old. At Children's Dentistry of DuPont, we can administer the most beneficial topical fluoride for your child right here in our DuPont, WA office! We can paint it right onto your child's freshly cleaned teeth and let it sit for a few minutes for maximum effectiveness.
How Much Is Too Much?
Newly forming teeth that are over-exposed to fluoride beneath the gumline can develop a condition called enamel fluorosis, which is characterized by a streaked or mottled appearance. Mild fluorosis takes the form of small white spots that are difficult to see. In more severe cases (which are rare), the discoloration can be darker, with a pitted texture. The condition is not harmful, but may eventually require cosmetic dental treatment. Tooth decay, on the other hand, is harmful to your child's health and can also be quite painful in severe cases. The risk for fluorosis ends by the time your child is about 9 when the crowns of the permanent teeth have fully formed. Our pediatric dentist would be happy to discuss how much fluoride your child needs and in what form, as his or her teeth develop.
Set Up an Appointment Today!
Healthy teeth are important at all ages, but especially for young children with newly developing permanent teeth. As a dental practice specializing in pediatric dentistry, we want to do everything in our power to protect your child’s teeth and ensure proper dental development. This development can be enhanced with appropriate fluoride exposure. At Children's Dentistry of DuPont, we can confirm if your child is receiving an adequate amount of fluoride, and if not we can administer fluoride in the most effective way. Please contact our office today to schedule a consultation for your child. Help your child develop healthy teeth for life!
Call Children's Dentistry of DuPont at (253) 964-0150 for more information.