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3 Things That Parents Should Know About Fluoride

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Parents have a variety of things they need to do to protect their children's health. Dental care should be viewed as important. Some parents assume that their children have healthy teeth because they do not see discolorations. The best verifiable method of checking for cavities in children is a dental exam. Some cavities are translucent, which makes it difficult or impossible to detect them with untrained eyes or special equipment. 

Fluoride is viewed in dentistry as a proper defense against tooth decay. It is found in municipal water supplies, some kinds of toothpaste, some bottled water, and some mouth rinses. It can be confusing for parents to know whether or not they should get their children optional fluoride treatments from a pediatric dentist. Too much fluoride can be problematic for children. The following points will help you better understand this mineral.

Understanding How Fluoride Protects Teeth

Fluoride strengthens and protects enamel. It cannot reverse cavities, but it can repair enamel loss that is not in advanced stages. This is one of the reasons it is added to dental hygiene products. When properly used, fluoride can help combat gum disease and tooth decay. Both of these dental issues are caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria can thrive and replicate quickly, which can form plaque. The plaque can eventually harden into tartar. Plaque is a contributing factor to tooth decay. Fluoride kills bacteria and removes plaque from teeth. 

Options for Fluoride Treatment

You can opt to get in-office fluoride treatments, which are safely administered by a pediatric dentist or dental hygienist. These are directly applied to the teeth. Sometimes they are given as rinses. The other option is referred to as systemic fluoride treatments. These are ingested. They can be given orally as a supplement, or a dentist might recommend consuming a specific type of water to get the fluoride benefits. This recommendation might be made if a family has a water well and there is a high risk for tooth decay. For example, a patient might have several existing cavities and show signs of not performing their at-home dental hygiene regimen as advised. 

Introducing Fluoride Toothpaste too Soon

Pediatric dentists will likely recommend using non-fluoridated toothpaste for children until they are old enough to spit out the toothpaste and rinse. When children swallow fluoridated toothpaste, there is a risk of their underlying permanent teeth getting white spots or streaks on them. The discolorations will not be evident until the loss of primary teeth. The condition is referred to as fluorosis. 

If you are not sure about getting fluoride treatments for your child, use a pediatric dentist as a resource to understand more. They might recommend alternative defenses to tooth decay such as dental sealants.