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. Fluoride prescriptions for children living in non-fluoridated areas (the City of Spokane, for example) are given starting at 6 months in the form of drops.
Three to Six Years
- Children should be encouraged to begin brushing on their own, but still need parental assistance. 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. Fluoride suppliments are usually given in a chewable tablet at this age.
Six Years to Adolecence
- Fluoride toothpastes and supplimentation are still advised, as children still have permanent teeth developing. 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 brushing habits during these years.