So what is fluoride?  Why does my dentist recommend my child and I receive it each time I get my teeth cleaned?  You may have heard news stories probably some positive, and probably some not so positive.  So what should you do?  To be able to make an informed decision, let’s try to get a basic understanding.

What is it made from?

Fluoride Decay PreventionFluoride is all natural!  It’s a tiny ion that occurs naturally in many rocks and in most water sources.  And it’s one of the elements listed on the periodic table of elements, abbreviated as Fl-. Studies have shown that when your teeth is exposed to fluoride in low level quantities, it strengths your teeth.  The outer enamel layer of your teeth becomes more resistant to tooth decay.

What is the proper way to get fluoride?

Studies have also shown when ingested in small amounts, the enamel of the teeth are able to be continuously strengthened, and even more resistant to cavities.  This reasoning is why some communities have added Fl- to its drinking water.  It’s one of the best and most cost effective to decrease risk of cavities.  It is recommended  to check if the water in your community is fluoridated; if not, check with your dentist or physician to see if a supplement is right for you.  If you routinely drink bottled or filtered water, you may not be getting enough fluoride; a supplement may be recommended.

For Teenagers and Adults

For proper home care, using any ADA approved toothpaste with fluoride twice a day is an excellent and efficient way to get the right amount on your teeth.  If you have a higher risk of developing tooth decay, a supplement such an over the counter fluoride rinse may be beneficial.  Your dentist may also recommend a prescription strength toothpaste with a higher Fl- concentration than that available over the counter.   Certain medical conditions and medications may increase tooth decay risk, and warrant additional fluoride to help control caries risk.  Be sure to discuss with your family dentist or hygienist for recommendation that is appropriate for you.

Infants, Young Kids, and Children

For kids generally 5 years or under who cannot yet spit out, it is recommended to use a non fluoridated toothpaste to avoid excessive Fl- ingestion.  Your dentist may recommend for your child a daily fluoride tablet to help supplement adequate amounts of the Fl-.  Once your child has reached the point where he or she can spit out, a small pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste used twice daily would be recommended.  A daily fluoride rinse may also be beneficial for kids and children.

Of course, too much of anything is not good anyone: excessive exercise can wear out your body, and eating too many carrots can cause your skin to turn orange. The same holds for fluoride; excessive amounts can have a negative effect of tooth mottling.  But rest assured the amount your dentist or hygienist applies during your checkup and cleaning visit is at just the right sufficient small quantity to help strengthen your teeth.

The American Dental Association has a thorough and informative article.

If you have any questions about oral fluoride, contact us at (425) 614-1600.

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