Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that is found in many foods, water, and even in the air. Cavities develop when food particles that are left behind, particularly carbohydrates and sugar, and bacterial plaque feed off of these sugars and transform them into acids that attack the tooth’s enamel.
Fluoride protects your teeth by making them more resistant to these acids, speeding up mineralization (the process of your teeth absorbing nutrients such as calcium and phosphate), and even reverses early-stage tooth decay.
When children under 6 years old have an adequate intake of fluoride, the fluoride becomes integrated with the permanent teeth and acts as a protective layer that makes it more difficult for acids in the mouth to cause demineralization (the loss of nutrients in the teeth). Fluoride protects the teeth from tooth decay and cavities by strengthening the teeth and protecting them from plaque acids.
Fluoride is often applied as a varnish to the teeth at the end of a dental cleaning to offer additional protection against tooth decay and cavities until your next dental visit. To schedule your next dental cleaning with Dr. Michael Hanna at Santee Dental Group, contact us today.
Fluoride makes the tooth enamel more resistant to acids.
The American Dental Association recommends that you regularly get fluoride treatments every 3, 6, or 12 months. This depends on the state of your oral health and hygiene and your dentist can inform you how often you will need them after examining your teeth. Fluoride treatment is most effective when received 3-4 times a year. However, if you are getting adequate fluoride intake from your water supply and toothpaste, then this may not be necessary.
If you have an increased risk of tooth decay due to inadequate saliva, weak enamel, or poor oral hygiene, we recommend that you use fluoride at home. There are many different sources of fluoride, including fluoridated tap water, toothpaste, mouthwash, and other fluoride products that can be prescribed by your dentist.
You should avoid rinsing out your mouth after you brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste as this reduces the fluoride’s ability to penetrate and protect your teeth. When you’re done brushing, you can simply spit out the toothpaste without rinsing. Your dentist can also prescribe fluoride supplements if you have a high risk of tooth decay or do not have a fluoridated water supply.
Keep in mind that guidelines for fluoride intake are different between children and adults. While those 13 years old or older can safely use high concentrations of fluoride, children younger than 13 will need to use a smaller amount of fluoride.
From 18 months to 3 years old, a tiny amount of low fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice may be used. A pea-sized amount of low fluoride toothpaste is recommended for children from the ages of 3-6. Children will swallow toothpaste usually until they develop the ability to spit at about 6 or 7 years old.
You should monitor your child until they can safely brush their teeth without swallowing the toothpaste. Excess consumption of fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis. It’s caused by overexposure to fluoride within the first 8 years of life and can cause tooth discoloration.
Fluoride reinforces the enamel before they have even broken through the gums in young children.