Enough Googling, enough debating - here we lay out the facts, plain and simple, so that you can arm yourself with the information you need to do what's right for your kids. We want you to trust our professional opinion, and feel 100% conformable with our child oral health care and the care we provide as a pediatric dentistry practice in Phoenix communities of west valley, the cities of Goodyear, Avondale, Surprise, AZ.
What is Fluoride?
First, a lesson in science - let's get back to the basics. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral present in everything from groundwater to soil to seafood. Derived from the element fluorine, fluoride is also synthetically manufactured fro use in your typical dental hygiene products, like toothpaste and mouthwash.
What Does Fluoride Do for Your Teeth?
Fluoride is, simply put, something helps you mineralize your teeth, meaning it helps to build and protect your teeth enamel. While you can get a topical fluoride treatment from your dentist and the benefits of it form mouthwashes and toothpastes, fluoride is also good for your teeth in a way that's known as systemic.
Systemic fluorides are ones you actually eat or drink, whether in natural food sources, supplements, or fluoridated water. Once consumed, the fluoride actually becomes a part of you saliva, coating your child's teeth constantly and renewing their protection layer against plaque and infiltrating bacteria. Think of it as you own personal, built-in mouthwash.
In babies and children that are still in primary teeth development, fluoride is helpful in strengthening the teeth against the myriad of modern processed foods that so may kids inevitably consume. Additionally, as the teeth form, they get an extra boost of strength from the fluoride, helping to build their enamel and keep cavities at bay.
The Facts About Fluoride
In some ways, it's wonderful being a parent in the digital age, but the sheer volume of information at your disposal can also be a bit overwhelming. Let's make it really simple, dispel the myths, the concerns, the overwhelming phobia, and go over what we do know about fluoride.
Fluoride Promote Preventing Cavities and Tooth Decay
Here at Palm Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we fully understand parent's hesitation with fluoride - the information circulating on the Internet right now is scary staff! Some of the things are speculating that coconut oil can treat tooth decay, other is that laser dentistry is the miracle tool to painless dentistry. While we certainly don't want to add to your worries, we do want to remind you that toot decay, if left untreated, can cause serious life-threatening infections requiring dental surgery, antibiotics, and even hospitalization.
Fluoride absolutely prevents tooth decay, strengthens teeth enamel, and gives tiny chompers that are resistant to brushing after a day of noshing fruit snacks a fighting chance at avoiding having a painful dental issues and emergencies.
Our in-office treatments deliver a professionally administered, concentrated dose auto up your child's protection from cavities, and continues use of fluoridated toothpaste, mouthwash, supplements, and water, ensures that your child stays one step ahead of tooth decay, before it can take root.
Areas with Fluoridated Water vs Areas Without Fluoridated Water
While we recognize that not all parents may feel comfortable with drinking and cooking with tap water, which in most area is also fluoridated, the evidence that it's effective at preventing tooth decay is, well, simply overwhelming. Numerous studies all verify the same thing: that populations consuming fluoridated water see significantly less tooth decay, and dental issues in their residents.
Fluoride and Fluorosis
One red flag that really worries a lot of parents about knowingly administering fluoride to their children internally is that little warning on the side of a tube of toothpaste - "If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help right away."
The simple fact is that anything in excess is generally a bad thing, from iron to whole grains, and fluoride is absolutely no exception. While we absolutely advocate making sure fluoride is a part of your kids' oral hygiene regimen, it's important to watch out for signs of excessive fluoride consumption. Here are a few tips:
- Watch for white streaks on your children's teeth. This is a sign of fluorosis, meaning they're getting too much fluoride, and can actually cause surface irregularities, and even dark brown and yellow staining.
- Always encourage children to spit their toothpaste out. Find a favorite character cup to encourage them. Remember, swallowing some toothpaste does NO harm.
- In young babies and toddlers that are too young to spit their toothpaste out, start with a non-fluoridated toothpaste, and alternate fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a week.
- Be mindful of what you're feeding very young children and babies. With smaller body wight comes a lower tolerance for fluoride, so be mindful of what they're eating and drinking. For example, if you baby drinks formula made with fluoridated water, there's no need to supplement with fluoride drops.
Fluoride is naturally present in all water
While most community water supplies are fluoridated, even natural bodies of water have fluoride win them, from wells to seawater. Some bodies have water have very minuscule, trace amounts, but seawater actually has as much as 0.4 ppm, compared to the current standard of 0.7 ppm for community water. There have been a number of studies done that have established that fluoride is incredibly effective at preventing tooth decay.
Should My Kids Drink Fluoridated Water?
Talk with our Board Certified Pediatric Dentists at Palm Valley Pediatric Dentistry about the fluoride that is already in you child's diet, from formula to fruit juice, and get a sense for whether fluoridated water, toothpaste, or supplementation is appropriate or recommended. At Palm Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we follow American Pediatric Dentistry Association guidelines; fluoride is critical for healthy teeth in children. In addition, we recommend seeing a dentist twice per year for a topical application of fluoride, and to make sure your kids are getting some from of internal (systemic) fluoride as well, whether from natural sources like seafood, or in their drinking water.
Is Fluoridated Toothpaste Safe for Babies and Toddlers?
The most important thing to note is that fluoride in the concentrated doses that are present in toothpaste and mouthwash are never a good idea to swallow. That being said, kids will be kids, and if it tastes like bubblegum, we recognize it may be hard to get them to spit it out.
If your child swallows a bit of toothpaste on occasion, it's not a major cause for concern. If they're still struggling to spit it out or just not there yet developmentally, we recommend starting with a non-fluoridated toothpaste, and discussing a fluoride supplement with your dentist or pediatrician as an alternative. At Palm Valley Pediatric Dentistry we encourage parents to use fluoride varnish application during their 6 month routine visits. We present parents with information and our recommendation, however, we allow parents to make the ultimate choice whether they want to use fluoride or wave this application.
Schedule an appointment, come in and talk with us, and ask all the questions you have, and do what you think is best armed with this information. Ultimately, we all what what's best for the children in our community. Use a combination of that fierce parenting instincts and all of the information the dental community has to offer, and we are convinced you can't go wrong.