Everything You Need to Know About Fluoride

Everything You Need to Know About Fluoride

When you hear someone mention the word “fluoride”, the first thing that probably pops into your head associated with this is toothpaste. Some toothpastes do have fluoride in them, and these are used to help strengthen teeth, but this is not the only thing that has this mineral in it. Fluoride is actually present in drinking water and in different kinds of food, with cucumbers and spinach containing a lot of this in them.

Fluoride is important to your health since it helps protect the enamel of your teeth from decay. This is because this particular mineral helps make your teeth more resistant to the acid that the bacteria in your mouth produce. Ingesting food that is high in this mineral, along with the regular brushing of your teeth with fluoride toothpaste will help you maintain healthy, decay-free teeth.

In order to increase the fluoride in teeth, a person has to start ingesting food that has this mineral in abundance at an early age. Starting at 6 years of age, this mineral begins to strengthen the teeth that grow in a child’s mouth, which is why it is important to give them fluoridated food and water before their permanent teeth start to erupt, and before their 16th birthday. After a child turns 16, any fluoride that is ingested and absorbed by the body through the stomach, will no longer be useful to their teeth.

How to Get More Fluoride

If your child does not really like the foods that are said to carry a lot of this mineral in them, you can still protect their teeth from decay by using other methods for getting fluoride into their system. For one, drinking water is usually fluoridated for this purpose in many areas. If water in your area is not fluoridated, you might want to ask your dentist for fluoride supplements instead.

Another way you can get fluoride onto your child’s teeth is with the help of topical fluoride agents, such as toothpaste and mouth washes. You can give your child fluoride toothpaste to use when they brush their teeth, and encourage them to rinse out their mouth at least once a day with a fluoride enriched mouthwash. This may only protect their mouth for a few hours, or until they eat again, but this is better than not giving them the fluoride protection they need.

Also worth considering is the use of professional fluoride treatments, which you can get from your dentist. This kind of a treatment is applied by your dentist in their clinic, and is better at protecting your teeth from decay for longer periods of time as compared with fluoride toothpaste use, when coupled with a good dental hygiene regimen, that is. This is also a good fluoride option for those who are above 16 and want more protection for their teeth from decay.

Care with Fluoride

When starting your child on a fluoride treatment to strengthen their teeth as these start to erupt, you should be aware that high doses of this mineral can also be harmful to a child’s health. The dosage you give to your child should never exceed the recommended amount for their weight. For instance, a child that weighs 45 pounds should not take in more than 650 mg of fluoride.

If your child is on fluoride supplements, there is no need to worry since these have only 1 mg of this mineral in them for each tablet. Just make sure that you store these away from their reach to ensure that they do not overdose.

It is also a good idea to get your child used to using only a pea sized portion of toothpaste every time they brush their teeth. This is to prevent the possibility of fluorosis, or the appearance of white specks on the teeth due to incessant swallowing of fluoride toothpaste after brushing. This often happens when the water in the area already has a high level of fluoride in it, and the child swallows large amounts of fluoride via their toothpaste at the same time.

Dr. Allan Hawryluk
Follow Us

Dr. Allan Hawryluk

Allan Hawryluk Jr. is a Mississauga-based dentist who has built a reputation for comprehensive dental care. Born and raised in Port Credit, he returned after completing his dental residency in 2003 at the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center. He feels privileged to serve the community and is committed to maintaining our clinic standards set by his late father - Dr. Allan R. Hawryluk (Sr).