Fluoride, fluoride, fluoride! You hear about it all the time, but is it worth all the hype? The short answer is yes. We would not be much help however, if we simply left it at that, now would we? Of course not! So, read on to learn what fluoride is, why it is important, and how you can help ensure that your child is receiving the amount they need.
What is Fluoride?
First off, if you thought that fluoride was a man-made synthetic element that has been added to drinking water for marketing purposes, you are not alone. In reality, fluoride is quite the opposite. It simply is a mineral that naturally appears in water and throughout other places and organisms on Earth.
How Does Fluoride Protect Teeth?
To begin, two processes, demineralization and remineralization, naturally occur in our mouths, and fluoride has a unique way to combat each of them. When bacteria starts feeding on the sugar and other particles in our mouths, acidic salvia is produced that weakens tooth enamel resulting in demineralization that contributes to tooth decay. Fluoride works as a warrior against this process by coating teeth with a ‘barrier’ and warding off unwanted acidic saliva.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is remineralization. This occurs when fluoride helps replenish calcium and phosphate ions when there has been an extreme loss of minerals and thereby strengthens the teeth.
When your child consumes fluoride in small doses, by either eating or drinking, it enters their bloodstream and consequently begins forming its defensive shield through the developing permanent tooth.
Secondly, fluoride becomes part of the saliva strengthening teeth from the exterior.
So, if you ask us, fluoride is our pick in the battle against tooth decay!
How to Ensure Your Child is Getting Enough Fluoride
There are several across-the-board options that other offices may recommend, but at our practice, Dr. Leach stresses the importance of customizing fluoride treatment on a case-by-case basis. Fluoride is not a one- size-fits-all element.
For example, fluorinated water is always a great starting point, but additional treatment options include the following:
• Traditional fluoride toothpaste
• Mouth rinses
• Dietary supplements
• High fluoride pastes
• Professionally applied gel
• Fluoride varnish
At our office, it is our standard of care to apply fluoride during each dental health checkup. This helps act as a proactive effort to ensure your child is receiving sufficient levels of fluoride to provide the best protection from decay.
** American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs. Professionally applied topical fluoride: evidence-based clinical recommendations.
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