Ever wonder why fluoride is in your toothpaste? Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water and many foods. It helps make teeth more resistant to constant attacks by plaque bacteria and sugars in your mouth. Research has shown that fluoride not only reduces cavities, but it also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay, even before the decay is visible. In addition to toothpaste, fluoride can also be found in drinking water and mouthwash and has become an important part of overall dental health.
While some parents worry about brushing their baby’s or toddler’s teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, the American Dental Association recommends the use of a fluoride toothpaste as soon as teeth erupt. In fact, there are clear benefits of fluoride for infants and children between the ages of 6 and 16 months. This is the timeframe during which the primary and permanent teeth come in and are vulnerable to decay. Parents should use a tiny pea-size portion of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily. Once the child is older, and later, when they are adept at spitting out toothpaste and rinsing their teeth after brushing, the amount of toothpaste used can be increased.
Fluoride treatments in our office contain a much higher level of fluoride than the amount found in toothpastes and mouth rinses and can be a great idea for those at risk of tooth decay. For example, if you have gum disease, also called periodontitis, more of your teeth and teeth roots are likely exposed to bacteria, increasing the chance of tooth decay. Gingivitis is an early stage of periodontitis. Periodic fluoride treatments can be a great benefit to children and adults alike.
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