All About Fluoride, What Is It And What Does It Do?

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Dental health is an extremely important part of overall health. If you have been to the dentist before for your usual checkups, you may have heard of a substance called Fluoride. Now, there is a lot of misinformation about fluoride and while we are not here to convince you or change your position either way, we would like to offer some basic information on fluoride that can help you make an informed decision about it.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in our atmosphere. It is present in naturally occuring solids, grass, water, and rocks. In fact, fluoride is the thirteenth most common mineral on earth. Fluoride comes from the element fluorine and is an ion. The gist here: You can’t avoid it because it occurs naturally everywhere!

History on water Fluoridation

Prior to 1945, the amount of tooth decay especially in children was rampant. In 1945, fluoride was added to Canadian city water systems and a decrease of approximately 63% was seen in the number and severity of cavities in children! Today, based on where you live in Canada, our water is fluoridated and it helps to use tap water for cooking even if you are not drinking it.

What Does Fluoride Do?

Fluoride is an effective substance that when added to dental products like toothpaste can remineralize tooth enamel, prevent oral bacteria overgrowth, and help reverse early tooth decay. When you eat, drink or use products containing fluoride, you are physically remineralizing or “strengthening” your tooth enamel. It is especially effective in children as ingestion of fluoride is taken up by the developing permanent teeth and helps to form strong enamel for these teeth.

Is Fluoride bad?

Anything is harmful in excess! And so it goes with Fluoride. Excess fluoride can cause digestion issues and during development of permanent teeth, it can lead to a mottled appearance of tooth enamel called fluorosis. Fluorosis today is extremely uncommon and was a thing of the past, when prescriptions of fluoride were given to patients due to lack of fluoride in the community water. Nowadays, it is very uncommon to be given a prescription of fluoride or develop fluorosis.

How does fluoride effect formation of enamel and children’s teeth?

As pediatric dentists, we love fluoride because we love cavity-free teeth! However, large amounts of fluoride are not to be ingested. For this reason, there is an amount of toothpaste limitation based on age. This allows the child to benefit from the fluoride in the toothpaste without any of the harmful effects that would be caused by excess ingestion.
The recommended amounts for children:
0-3 years: “smear” or rice grain amount of toothpaste containing fluoride twice per day based on individual caries risk
3-6 yrs: “pea” size of toothpaste containing fluoride twice per day

What does this mean for you and your family?

Dental disease is the most prevalent chronic disease in children and adolescents in North America. Drinking fluoridated water and brushing twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste are some of the things you can do for your family to prevent cavities. In addition, regular visits to your dentist, for six month checks and application of professional grade fluoride are very important for good oral health.
At Hifive Kids Dental, we would love to speak with you about Fluoride or any other topic concerning oral health. We want your kids cavity-free as much you do! Please call to book an appointment with our pediatric specialists for a consultation!

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