Fluoride is a very important component of a cavities prevention program. Fluoride helps to prevent cavities by making the teeth stronger and more resistant to decay. Drinking water treated with fluoride (city water in our area and some bottled waters) and toothpaste with fluoride can provide your child with the fluoride they need to help prevent cavities. We also will place a topical fluoride on your child’s teeth after a cleaning to “supercharge” the teeth with fluoride. Most cleanings remove a very small amount of the enamel from the teeth and the fluoride will help to replace this enamel and strengthen the remaining enamel. For this reason we strongly recommend a fluoride treatment after any cleaning.
Fluoride is safe as long as your child gets the correct amount and not too much. If your child’s only exposure to fluoride is through drinking water and a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste (about the size of a pea) then they are getting an adequate amount of fluoride. If children are not drinking fluoridated water then they may be candidates to receive fluoride supplementation with fluoride drops or fluoride tablets. Dr. Hollowell or Dr. Porter can evaluate the level of fluoride in a child’s drinking water to determine if fluoride supplements are needed. Make sure that your children’s drinking water has been tested for the amount of fluoride present before they begin taking fluoride supplements. Too much fluoride can be a bad thing.
If a child gets too much exposure to fluoride on a regular basis by taking too much fluoride supplement or swallowing too much fluoridated toothpaste then they can get a condition called enamel fluorosis. Enamel fluorosis shows up as defect in enamel such as white, yellow or brown splotches, streaks or lines. This is our main concern with taking too much fluoride and the reason why Dr. Buddy and Dr. Porter will review the fluoride exposure of new patients. The correct amount of fluoride has huge benefits in preventing tooth decay but at the same time you want to make sure your child is not getting too much fluoride. Make sure your child spits out excess toothpaste and if they aren’t spitting then only use a small pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Most importantly make sure your child does not take a fluoride supplement without having the drinking water tested first. If you have any questions about fluoride make sure to ask Dr. Buddy or Dr. Porter.