How does fluoride work?
Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay when used in small amounts. It helps strengthen weak areas of the teeth where cavities may begin to develop. Fluoride can be found in our water and is present in many different foods as well as dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses and varnishes. Fluoride is most effective when combined with a healthy diet and proper oral hygiene. Will my child need fluoride supplements?
Your dentist considers many factors such as age, risk of developing dental decay and different liquids consumed by your child before recommending a fluoride supplement. Children between the ages of six months and 16 years may require supplements. The fluoride amount in bottled, filtered and well waters vary so be mindful that your child is receiving the proper amount. What type of toothpaste should my child use?
Between the ages of 0-3 years, brush your child's teeth with water or with a non-fluoridate toothpaste. As your child learns how to spit on command, we recommended they use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste that is approved by the Canadian Dental Association. Teach your child not to swallow any toothpaste as this may cause excessive amounts of fluoride to remain in their bodies and exceed the recommended daily amount. How safe is fluoride?
Fluoride is proven to be a safe and highly effective method of decreasing the rate of tooth decay. However, it is important to note that for maximum benefit, only small amounts of fluoride are necessary. Using the proper toothpaste amount and other forms of fluoride supplements must be carefully supervised in order to prevent exceeding the amount of fluoride that may cause spots on developing permanent teeth. What is topical fluoride?
After your child’s teeth have been cleaned, the dental hygienist applies topical fluoride. These come in a variety of forms such as gels and foams and placed on fluoride trays. One of the newer forms of topical fluoride is the fluoride varnish, which has proven to be a safe and effective in preventing dental decay. The fluoride varnish is especially useful in young patients that may not tolerate fluoride trays comfortably.
The advantages of varnish are:
- Easily and quickly applied to the teeth.
- Decreases the potential amount of fluoride digested.
- Continues to "soak" fluoride into the enamel for approximately 24 hours after the original application.
- This method is especially useful in young patients and those with special needs that may not tolerate fluoride trays comfortably.
Children who are at high risk for dental decay benefit most from fluoride. Some risk factors include a history of decay, high sucrose carbohydrate diet, orthodontic appliances and some medical conditions.