We have heard many moms talking about, “why my kids dentist uses fluoride”. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what fluoride is and why it is used. Most of them come from a lack of understanding and, as such, we want you to know the facts about fluoride and why it is important for your children.
What is fluoride?
It is important to understand that fluoride is derived from fluorine, a naturally occurring ion. Fluorine is found all around you in the dirt that you walk on, the air that you breathe, and even the food that you eat. Since your body doesn’t absorb enough through these encounters, you need to receive fluoride through other means.
Why does my kids dentist use fluoride?
This is the most important question of all. Over time, teeth go through a process called demineralization. This is natural but can be sped up with a poor diet, eating too much sugar, not brushing often enough, or not getting regular dental care. As the teeth demineralize, they become soft and weaker. The enamel can also begin to erode as part of this process. What happens is the teeth become susceptible to tooth decay, the weaker that they get. In order to combat this common problem, we have to strengthen teeth and fluoride is the best way to do so. By giving your child a fluoride treatment the teeth can remineralize and will be able to fight off tooth decay.
Does it really work?
Yes, studies have found that using fluoride can decrease the risk of tooth decay (cavities) by 30 percent. This is significant but in order for it to work, fluoride must be received through the water that your kids drink or from a fluoride treatment in our office. Toothpaste with fluoride helps but it is not as effective as these two methods. With that in mind, we recommend that your kids have a fluoride treatment at least once a year through their teenage years.
Why does this matter?
Most people are unaware of how common cavities are. While parents are understandably concerned about their child catching a cold or the chickenpox, preventing cavities is equally important, if not more so. In fact, the Center for Disease Control reported that tooth decay is the most common infectious disease among children. It leads to missed school days and uncomfortable toothaches for children of all ages. This is a significant problem and, therefore, needs to be treated as such. As a parent, you can take steps to prevent cavities including having your child’s teeth cleaned twice a year and having a fluoride treatment once a year. We also recommend reducing their sugar intake and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste two to three times per day.
When asking why my kids dentist uses fluoride, consider how uncomfortable your child would be if they had a cavity or two or three. This puts in perspective how doing whatever we can to prevent cavities is important.