Fluoride. You hear the term all the time. Fluoride is used at the dentist’s office and is found in toothpaste, tap water, and mouthwashes. But what is fluoride? And is it safe for our kids to use?
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is found in your bones and teeth. It can be found naturally in water, soil, plants, rocks, and air particles.
What is Fluoride Used For?
Fluoride is mainly used for dental health and strengthens your enamel. Your enamel is the outer layer of your teeth, and the area cavities attack first. Having strong enamel with good bacteria protects your teeth against cavities and has a direct correlation with fluoride.
Fluoride mouthwash will be prescribed by your dentist occasionally for a higher concentration of fluoride rather than just using your toothpaste.
Fluoride is also used in other areas such as:
- In PET scans and other medical scan
- In pesticides
- As a cleaning agent
- To make steel, aluminum, and Teflon.
What Are the Benefits of Fluoride?
Fluoride is beneficial for your teeth because it rebuilds weakened tooth enamel. The rebuilding is due to an increase of fluoride that will re-mineralize the defect and reverse any early signs of tooth decay.
When bacteria in your mouth break down sugars and carbs, they produce acids that chip away at the good bacteria in your mouth and enamel. This loss of minerals and good bacteria is referred to as demineralization. Having weak tooth enamel makes you more susceptible to cavities and bad bacteria.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that the average of decaying or missing teeth in 12-year-old children in the United States dropped by 68% from 1960 through 1990. This was due to the wide expansion of fluoridated water in cities as well as the introduction of fluoride in toothpaste.
Is Fluoride Safe for Children?
Fluoride is safe for children ages 3 to 6 as long as they don’t ingest it, because higher levels can be harmful or toxic. For children of this age group, the size of a pea is the proper amount of toothpaste to use. The child brushing and using mouthwash should be always monitored to ensure they don’t swallow an excessive amount.
Children younger than 3 should not be using fluoride-based toothpaste. Instead, we encourage the parents to brush their child’s teeth with non-fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-thistle brush. The amount of toothpaste should be no more than the size of a grain of rice.
Using fluoride in your toothpaste is highly recommended, as is brushing three times a day. Fluoride will protect your enamel from harmful bacteria and fight against tooth decay. Use fluoride moderately and keep in mind that tap water carries fluoride which is good for your oral health.