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Fluoride or Not? A Children’s Dentists Perspective

September 12, 2022 ABC Children's Dentistry

One of the most common questions parents ask during a child’s first dental checkup is when to start fluoride treatments.  The general consensus among pediatric dentists has shifted over the past few years.  At one time, dentists advised parents to wait on fluoride until a child was older, but now, thanks to new understandings of how this compound works in supporting healthy teeth, parents can introduce fluoride, with proper monitoring, as soon as their children begin a dental hygiene regimen.

Fluoride–The Best Cavity Fighter

Nothing beats fluoride when it comes to risk management for cavities.  Unlike almost every other substance, sodium fluoride has been shown to significantly reduce the number of children’s cavities with regular use.  Fluoride is so important, in fact, that the American Association of Pediatric Dentists recommends using it as soon as children are able to begin brushing.

Fluoride has been shown in numerous studies to be the best single agent in fighting cavities.  In fact, it is so widely accepted by the medical community that many areas purposely fluoridate their water just to help residents have healthier teeth!

While there are many ways to get fluoride into a child’s diet, such as through tap water that is enriched with fluoride or green, leafy vegetables, sodium fluoride, a compound of sodium and fluorine added to many toothpastes, remains one of the best defenses against cavities.  Pediatric dentists can also administer regular fluoride treatments in the office when a child comes in for a checkup.  Between brushing, diet and fluoride treatments, it is easy to get your child the right amount of fluoride for strong teeth.

How Should I Monitor My Child’s Fluoride Use?

From the age of about one, children can be taught to brush carefully and spit out the toothpaste afterwards.  However, if a child is very small and tends to be uncooperative about spitting instead of swallowing the toothpaste, minimizing the amount of paste used is a good technique.  Very young children should have no more toothpaste than the size of a kernel of corn on their brush; older children can graduate to a pea-sized amount.

Some families prefer alternatives to fluoride, such as xylitol.  While the parents are ultimately the ones to make decisions regarding the child’s use of fluoride, a good discussion with your pediatric dentist can help you make an informed choice.  If you have concerns about the use of fluoride, be sure to speak with your dentist.

A healthy lifestyle, including a good diet, as well as careful brushing with the use of fluoride toothpaste, will go a long way toward helping your child have a beautiful smile for life!  If you are ready to talk to a dentist about your child’s oral health, call ABC Children’s Dentistry today.  It is never too early to begin working on healthy teeth and gums!  Our friendly, professional staff is here to work with you to ensure that your child has a safe, fun and relaxing dental experience.

Call us today to schedule your child’s first appointment.