Your child brushes twice a day, flosses regularly, and visits the dentist every six months. But did you know that rinsing with fluoride – a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay – also helps keep teeth healthy and strong?
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface.
Fluoride comes in two varieties, systemic and topical:
- Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply or presciption based supplements. While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities. We recommend that all children take a fluoride suppliment up the the age of 12, as permanent teeth are still developing until that age. To maximize the benefit of fluoride, doses must be taken as prescribed. Age indicates the correct dosage of fluoride your child will need, and if you have any questions please consult with one of our doctors.
- Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent caries (cavities) on teeth present in the mouth. It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride applications. Professional application of topical fluoride foam and varnishes is also a valuable tool in cavity prevention.
Six Months to Three Years
- It is important to begin brushing your child's teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste. Children who are breastfeeding/drinking form the bottle should have their teeth brushed after feeding. A film of milk or juice left on the teeth can contribute to early childhood decay. Bottles/sippy cups should not be taken to bed unless they are filled with water. Proper care during these years can lead to healthy teeth later on!
Three to Six Years
- Children should be encouraged to begin brushing on their own, but still need parental assistance. Spin-brushes can be very helpful at this age. Children should be weaned from pacifiers by this age, and it is important to break any thumb-sucking habits. Some children may lose thier first tooth around age 5-6. Healthy snacking should be encouraged. Fresh fruit, string cheese, fresh vegetables and nuts are healthy snacks. Sticky foods such as fruit snacks, fruit leather and other sweets or crackers should be given on a limited basis, and given with a meal if possible.
Six Years to Adolecence
- Fluoride toothpastes and supplimentation are still advised, as children loose their teeth continually throughout this time. Children who participate in sports should consider mouth guards, and those who start orthodontic treament may benefit from a prescription strength toothpaste. Older chidlren often times rush through brushing, or tend to skip, so it is still important to monitor your child's brushinb habits during these years.
How to choose the right fluoride treatment
When choosing an at-home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined and approved by the ADA based on safety and effectiveness.