Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral and is essential for tooth development and the prevention of tooth decay. Most of us have access to fluoride in our drinking water; however, it may not be a sufficient amount. That’s one reason why your family dentist may recommend a fluoride supplement for your child and/or the use of toothpastes and other dental products that contain this important mineral. At Bluff Creek Dental, our Chanhassen family dentistry professionals can assess if your child needs more exposure to fluoride to ensure a healthy mouth and advise you on the proper course of action to get it.
How Fluoride Helps
The protective outer layer on your teeth, called enamel, is often subject to attacks from acids found in certain foods and beverages like sodas and citrus fruits. Additionally, sometimes decay-causing bacteria trapped in the mouth creates acid from sugar. This bacteria congregates in dental plaque and feeds on sugar that is not cleansed from your child’s mouth. In metabolizing (breaking down) sugar, the bacteria produce acids that can eat through tooth enamel. This is how cavities form. However, when fluoride is present it becomes part of the crystalline structure of tooth enamel, hardening enamel and making it more resistant to acid attacks. Fluoride can even help repair small cavities that are already forming.
Delivering Fluoride to the Teeth
Children can ingest fluoride through drinking water or supplements. The fluoride will then be absorbed by their newly developing permanent teeth. Once a tooth has erupted, it can be strengthened by fluoride topically (on the surface). Our family dentists usually recommend toothpastes with fluoride to ensure your child’s teeth receive daily fluoride exposure. We suggest using only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children ages 2 – 6 and just a tiny smear for any children under this age. Fluoride should not be used on children younger than 6 months of age. At Bluff Creek Dental, we can administer the most beneficial topical fluoride for your child right here in our Chanhassen, MN office! We can paint it right onto your child’s freshly cleaned teeth then let it sit for a few minutes for maximum effectiveness.
How Much Is Too Much?
Newly forming teeth that are over-exposed to fluoride beneath the gum line can develop a condition called enamel fluorosis, which is characterized by a streaked or mottled appearance. Mild fluorosis takes the form of white spots that are hard to see. In more severe cases (which are rare), the discoloration can be darker with a pitted texture. The condition is not harmful, but may eventually require cosmetic dental treatment. Tooth decay, on the other hand, is harmful to your child’s health and can also be quite painful in severe cases. The risk for fluorosis ends by the time your child is about 9 when all the permanent teeth have fully formed. Our family dentists would be happy to discuss how much fluoride your child needs and in what form as his or her teeth develop.
Call for Your First Consultation!
Healthy teeth are important at all ages, but parents must be especially careful to make sure their children develop healthy permanent teeth. As a family dentistry offering pediatric dentistry services, we want to do everything in our power to protect your child’s teeth and ensure proper dental development. This development begins with fluoride. At Bluff Creek Dental, our friendly family dentists and staff can confirm if your child is receiving an adequate amount of fluoride, and if not we can administer fluoride in the most effective way possible. Contact us or stop by our office to schedule a consultation for your child today!