Fluoride

October 14, 2013

Boy drinking glass of water

 

What’s so important about fluoride? 

In honor of National Dental Hygienist month, and with Halloween approaching, I thought a tooth topic was appropriate!

 

 

What is fluoride?

It’s a mineral that naturally exists in water sources. It helps protect teeth from the acid made from sugars in our diet and the bacteria that live in our mouths. Fluoride is incorporated into developing teeth- both permanent and baby teeth, to strengthen the enamel or the protective layer.  It also helps reverse tooth decay produced by the acid eating away at the enamel on our teeth.

How does my child get fluoride?

It’s in controlled amounts in city water and is often in well water, although the well water should be tested periodically to make sure the level is safe and not too high or low.  If you only use bottled, unfluoridated, water, your child may need a supplement, which comes as drops or a tablet.  It’s also in toothpaste, many foods and drinks.

How much dose my child need?

Optimal levels in drinking water are monitored by your water authority.  Recommended levels are between 0.7-1.2 ppm (parts per million).  The Monroe County Water Authority prints an annual report, for 2012 the concentration was 0.2-1.3 ppm, which meets the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards.

Children less than 6 months old do not need a supplement.  Between 6 months and 16 years, a supplement is recommended if you live in a nonfluoridated area or drink nonfluoridated bottled water.

Can my child have too much fluoride?

Yes, too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, which in mild cases causes white streaks or spots on the teeth, in more severe cases causes permanent discoloration of the teeth.  Too much fluoride can be seen in children taking a fluoride supplement, drinking fluorinated water and having unsupervised access to toothpaste or mouth rinse also with fluoride.

When is the risk of fluorosis over?

Once your child’s permanent teeth come in, around the age of 8 years.

When can my child start using toothpaste with fluoride?

Under the age of 2 years, they can do a tiny “smear” of toothpaste twice a day.  Ages 2-5 years can use a “pea-sized” amount.  After age 5, they usually are able to brush and spit out the excess toothpaste and can use a larger amount, about the size of a kidney bean.  Always supervise your child while they are brushing their teeth and “inspect” their teeth, getting those back ones!, until they around ~7-8 years old and can reliably brush well.

When can my child start going to the dentist?

Usually between ages 1-3 years, depending on where you live and when the local dentists start seeing young children.  If you have a family history of early cavities, it’s wise to call and see if your dentist will see your child when they are young- especially if you notice any discoloration or sensitivity with chewing. Until then, your pediatrician will check out your children’s teeth, as part of their wellness exam.  Another good reason to practice having your child say “ah”!

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Dr. Lloyd is moving!

On May 21st, 2018, she joined Portland Pediatrics! Her new office is located at:
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Webster, NY 14580
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