Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound, with Fluorine, one of the natural elements in the compound, responsible for minimizing childhood tooth decay and cavities. Many kinds of toothpaste, mouthwashes, and oral gels use fluoride as their key ingredient. Certain areas can also find additional fluoride in their community water supply. While fluoride is very important, too much anything can be bad for you. Too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis.
Fluoride has two very important dental functions. First, it works to prevent mineral loss in the enamel of the teeth, and secondly, it assists in the remineralization of the tooth enamel. Then the bacteria in our mouth consumes carbohydrates and sugars; it creates an acid that attacks the enamel of teeth. With consistent attacks, cavities can form as well as additional problems with tooth decay and childhood periodontal disease.
Fluoride is very effective in protecting the tooth enamel as well as reducing the risk of childhood tooth decay. However, fluoride is most successful when used as part of a larger oral health routine.
Ensuring your child has the proper amount of fluoride is crucial, since too much or too little is not ideal. For children under two years old, use an ADA approved toothpaste without fluoride since additional fluoride could be coming from other sources, such as the water supply. Between two and five years old, it is advised to use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. The time between the ages of 1 and 4 years old are the biggest risks for fluorosis.
Your dentist will be able to determine the fluoride level and determine if supplements or a fluoride treatment would be beneficial. Each delivers a concentrated amount of fluoride delivered in pill form or via an oral treatment.