Dental decay is a common condition all over the world. With today’s young person’s diet being less than ideal (sugary/acidic sodas, energy drinks, sour gummies/candies, and other carbohydrates) one way to help prevent cavities from occurring is through the use of fluoride. Fluoride helps harden the tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to tooth decay. A small cavity can be stopped and even reversed by the remineralization process enhanced by fluoride.
Fluoride can be delivered to the teeth in two ways: topically (direct contact on the teeth) and systemically (enters the blood stream).
Even though the benefits of fluoride are maximized before the teeth erupt, fluoride is still very beneficial for children and adults after the teeth are fully erupted. Topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth structure to delay or slow down the tooth decay process.
Systemic fluoride is delivered to the tooth surface via the bloodstream. Systemic fluoride can be derived from a food source, water source, or dietary supplements (pill, tablet, lozenge, and drop). Fluoridated water is an effective way to reduce the problem of dental decay. It has been shown that fluoridated water and dietary supplements can reduce up to 60% of tooth decay.
Some water supplies naturally contain fluoride, but for others fluoride is added to the water supply. If you would like to know if your community's water supply contains fluoride, call your local water or health department.
Just like any vitamin or supplement, certain precautions need to be taken to make sure fluoridated products are used properly. Please note the following recommendations:
- Fluoridated products should not be swallowed.
- Only a small amount of toothpaste, such as a smear for a toddler or the size of a small pea is needed for a child.
- Fluoridated products, especially mouth rinses should not be given to a child under 6 years of age, or to anyone who cannot rinse and spit.
- Parental supervision is needed for children when brushing or using any fluoridated substances.