Parents frequently ask questions about fluoride.  Here’s some info on it to help answer some of the questions that come up:

  • What is it?

Fluoride is a compound of fluorine found naturally in water and food. Minerals such as fluoride come and go from the surface of a tooth’s enamel every day.  These minerals are lost when acids from food and bacteria attack the tooth’s enamel. Using small amounts of fluoride can help prevent tooth decay by strengthening the enamel layer.  It does this by attaching to the outer layer of the tooth and making the tooth ten times more resistant to acid attacks.  It is found in toothpaste, mouthwash, water, gels and varnish.

  • Why do we use it on kids?

Fluoride helps people of all ages to fight tooth decay. However, it is most important for children ages 6 months to 16 years old because this is the time frame in which primary and permanent teeth are coming in.  This is a time when the kids may struggle to clean their teeth properly, either due to lack of ability or lack of desire.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents should brush their baby’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts.

  • Why do we recommend it?

Brushing teeth at least twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water is the most effective way to decrease childhood decay.  This is a cheap way to prevent cavities, which will in turn save you money and trips to the dentist.  Professional treatments are recommended in our office every 6 months to “super charge” the teeth, which can reverse starts of cavities and prevent the start of new cavities.

  • Does my child need supplements?

If your child is only consuming non-fluoridated water then a supplement might be beneficial in order to protect their teeth.  Examples of this are bottled water or if your home has a reverse osmosis filter on it.  If your house is supplied by well water, it would be good to have the water tested to see if it has the appropriate amount of fluoride in it.  In the Salt Lake City area most cities contain fluoridated water.  If you think that your child isn’t drinking enough fluoridated water, then ask Dr Gardner if he would recommend a fluoride supplement.

Here’s some links to guidelines from pediatricians and pediatric dentists:

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