If you have brought your child in for a dental wellness visit to C. Christian Franck Dental (or any dentist) recently the hygienist might have asked if you want a fluoride treatment. If you’re like a lot of parents you might not know for sure if you do or not.
Fluoride is actually a natural mineral that is found in a lot of foods and water. When certain foods (especially foods that create sugars in the mouth) are consumed they can destroy tooth enamel. Over time attacking tooth enamel will lead to cavities and tooth decay. Minerals like fluoride, calcium and phosphate are remineralized (deposited) to the enamel layer from the foods and waters we consume. This allows the tooth to become more resistant to the foods and plaque bacteria that can damage it.
How Can I Get Fluoride?
Fluoride can be found in more than just food and water. There are a variety of toothpastes and mouth washes that can supplement fluoride absorption. Your dentist also has options to add fluoride that include gel, foam or varnish. These options have much higher levels of fluoride than the food or over-the-counter options you can purchase and must be applied by a professional (that’s us).
When Should Fluoride Be Considered?
Typically kids between 6 months and 16 years are the most in need of fluoride. For younger children it is so that their teeth form properly and for older kids it is to protect their adult teeth. That being said, some adults can benefit from fluoride as well, especially if they suffer from any of the following:
– Gum disease (also known as periodontitis)
– If you have crowns, braces, and/or bridges
– Dry Mouth Conditions (these can be caused by certain medications, head and neck radiation and is also known as xerostomia)
– History of frequent cavities
But Is It Safe?
The good news is YES, fluoride when used as directed is safe. However, like most things, when it is not used correctly or in higher than recommended doses it can be “toxic”. It is important that if you have fluoride products in your home you store them away from the reach of your child especially if they are under the age of 6.
If you have well water you may want to consider having your water tested for fluoride. Since it is naturally occurring it is not unheard of for there to be stronger than recommended amounts in your drinking water. If your child (usually under the age of 6) consumes too much fluoride it can cause fluorosis. This can lead to white specks or streaks and brown discoloration on their teeth. As they get older their dentist can help decrease these issues but it may require strong professional-strength abrasives or bleaches.
Fluoride is safe and recommended for children and adults when used properly. If you are unsure of any treatment we recommend at C, Christian Franck Wellness Dentistry please feel free to discuss your concerns with us and we will make sure to take the time to address any questions you may have. In the mean time, keep brushing and keep flossing and we’ll see you at your next appointment!