How Fluoride Benefits Your Child's Teeth

Sep 01, 2023

How Fluoride Benefits Your Child's Teeth

There’s a lot of debate about fluoride: if, when, and how much is actually safe for kids. With so much information (and misinformation) out there, parents can find it difficult to make a decision with confidence. 

Our pediatric dentistry experts at Lifetime Dental Care, PLLC in Woodbridge, Virginia, put your family’s oral health and wellness above all else, and that’s why we recommend fluoride treatments for your whole crew. 

In this blog, we walk you through exactly what fluoride is, what it isn’t, and how it can benefit your kids’ growing teeth. 

What does fluoride do for my child’s teeth?

Fluoride is a mineral that helps protect teeth from tooth decay by strengthening the enamel and reducing the harmful effects of plaque. It can also help teeth remineralize faster if decay does develop. 

Simply put, fluoride is on the front lines of your child’s oral health, keeping cavities and decay at bay. 

This is great news for parents of youngsters, especially when you take a look at the numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that:

  • Over half of children aged 6-8 have a cavity in their baby teeth.
  • Over half of adolescents aged 12-19 have a cavity in their permanent teeth.

But it’s not all bad news. The CDC also found that fluoride ingestion is not only safe, but it also can reduce cavities by 25% for your whole family. 

Where can I find fluoride?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years old have some form of fluoride every day. That may sound like a tall order, but helping your child get enough fluoride may be easier than you think. 

Most areas of the United States have fluoridated their drinking water, which means everyone in your house is already consuming fluoride on a regular basis — we call this systemic fluoride. You can find out how much fluoride is in your drinking water by calling your city’s water department. 

The other most common place to get fluoride is in topical dental products and treatments. When your child’s first tooth erupts, we recommend you start brushing their teeth with a very small amount (just a smear) of fluoride toothpaste. Around age 3, they should be using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. 

We also provide fluoridated varnishes in our office, and we can apply them every 3-6 months at your child’s dental checkups. 

Are there any risks of fluoride use?

When ingested properly, fluoride is safe for everyone in your family. There is a chance, however, that your child gets too much fluoride, which can cause a condition called fluorosis. If your child develops fluorosis, brown or white speckles develop on their teeth. It looks worse than it is, and isn’t a threat to your child’s oral and overall health. 

To avoid fluorosis, make sure your child doesn't swallow toothpaste and isn’t brushing on their own until they’re 7-8 years old.

What else can I do for my child’s oral health?

Cavities are one of the greatest threats to your child’s oral and overall health. Left untreated, cavities can become severe and develop into serious infections. 

Systemic and topical fluoride consumption is one of the best ways to keep those threats in check, but if you want to take things a step further, consider the following:

  • Regular dental cleanings and checkups
  • Dental sealants
  • Using mouthguards during sports and activities
  • Pulp therapy, which treats compromised dental pulp without removing it
  • Habit appliances, used to help kids stop sucking their thumbs

We offer all these and more in our office, and can walk you and your child through exactly what they need to keep their teeth as healthy as possible. 

If you still have more questions about fluoride, don’t hesitate to call Lifetime Dental Care at 703-499-9779 or use our online booking tool