Anybody who has ever been to the dentist knows that fluoride is good for the teeth. Specifically, fluoride works to strengthen the enamel of those pearly whites as well as help prevent tooth decay. As gross as it is to even think about, the mouth is actually rife with bacteria. When they combine with sugars, acid that damages the teeth is produced. Fluoride comes to the rescue by protecting the teeth from this acid. Of course, it does not do the job alone, and we still recommend you brush and floss your child’s teeth twice a day, fluoride is safe in appropriate doses as directed.
So, when is it safe for my child to use fluoride?
That is a great question! In children, it can actually works to reverse early signs of decay besides providing active protection against acid damage. For this reason, it’s important that our kids are drinking plenty of water and using a toothpaste with this mineral in them. This recommendation is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Dental Association (ADA). So, even if your child is not quite ready to rinse with fluoride, it is likely that you are already using it in the toothpaste you have in your bathroom vanity.
If water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to help keep our children’s teeth healthy, why are some parents are leery about mixing fluoride water with infant formula? There is technically some risk of a child developing mild fluorosis, which typically manifests as white streaks on the teeth. These are so faint that it usually takes a dental expert to register them, and often only during a dental exam. It is not painful and has no impact whatsoever on the function or health of the teeth.
The risk of developing fluorosis is over by the time children turns eight years old. This is one reason we always tell parents to take advantage of the two dental check ups a year that are usually part of your dental insurance plan. We see babies as young as six months old when their first teeth come in. This develops great habits for your little ones and eliminates any fear of the dentist! If are truly concerned about fluorosis for your baby, and exclusively breastfeeding is not an option we recommend airing on the side of caution by using distilled water with no fluoride to mix with the formula.Again the risk subsides at 8 years old. Your best bet is to consult with your pediatrician about fluoride risk and consumption.
Another question we often hear is, when should my child start using fluoride toothpaste?
Fluoride toothpaste can be introduced when your child already knows how to spit so they won’t be ingesting the toothpaste. Managing or supervising the teeth brushing routine is always a good idea until you are confident your child has developed healthy brushing habits. Furthermore, keep all toothpaste and rinse out of reach of small children.
As always, consult with your local pediatric dentist to find the best possible regiment for your child. Each family has different routines, as well as genetics. We welcome patients in the Sacramento, Elk Grove and Pleasant Hill areas to visit one of our Surfside dental offices. We promise to educate as well as make it an unforgettable Surfside experience!
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