These parents have read the countless magazine articles and heard the advertisements that fluoride helps improve a child’s oral health, but only if a child is getting the right amount. This leads many parents to show up to our pediatric dentist office wondering if their child is getting enough fluoride. Unfortunately, that isn’t a question that can be easily answered.
There are a number of different factors that go into determining if a child is getting enough fluoride from the water they drink and the dental products they use at home or if there may be a need for additional fluoride treatment. We will take a look at why fluoride is important and discuss some of the factors pediatric dentists consider when determining if fluoride treatment is needed.
Why is Fluoride so Important to Children?
Inside every child’s mouth bacteria and sugars combine to create a harmful and destructive acid. If left on the surface of the teeth, this acid can slowly wear down the tooth’s surface, known as enamel, and cause extreme damage. Once a tooth is damaged, the only way to fix it is by removing the damaged portion, sanitizing the tooth, and filling the tooth.
Fluoride works as a natural protector of teeth. It is a mineral that can remove the acid created by the combining of sugar and bacteria. Removing the acid reduces the likelihood of teeth becoming damaged. Fluoride can also help reverse slight damage caused by decay. The damage is reversed because the enamel of the teeth is strengthened by the fluoride. Stronger enamel has a natural quality that allows it to reverse some early signs of tooth decay.
Factors Dentists Use to Determine if a Child is Getting Enough Fluoride
Every child is different. Some get enough fluoride just from the water they drink while others do not. Dentists must assess each case individually to determine if a child is getting enough fluoride.
Some factors that are considered when assessing if a child is getting enough fluoride include:
- Type of water is being drunk by the child
- Age of the child
- Other sources of fluoride that are used by the child
Looking at the Type of Water that is Consumed
Most children have access to water that has been pre-treated with fluoride. However, some children who only drink bottled water, filtered water, or well-water may not be getting enough fluoride.
If you get your water from a community source, you can see what the test results are for fluoride levels in the water. A good amount of fluoride to have in your water is between .7 and 1.2 milligrams per liter.
If you get your water from a well-water system, you will probably need to hire a contractor to conduct an independent fluoride test. An independent fluoride test can give you a better idea of how much natural fluoride is being produced by the water you consume.
Children Need Different Amounts of Fluoride-Based on Age
Some problems may occur if your child is exposed to too little or too much fluoride depending upon their age. Fluorosis, the development of blotchy white spots on the teeth, can happen if a child consumes too much fluoride at an early age. On the other hand, if a child doesn’t get enough fluoride, tooth decay can develop and cavities will form.
Your dentist can help you determine whether your child is getting too much, too little, or just enough fluoride for their age.
Other Sources of Fluoride
Water is just the most common source of fluoride for kids. There are, however, a number of other sources of fluoride. Mouthwashes, toothpaste, and even some foods contain fluoride.
A dentist will combine how much fluoride your child gets from natural water and how much they get from additional sources to determine if additional fluoride treatment is needed.
If you are worried about whether or not your child is getting enough fluoride, schedule an appointment at Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics. Our pediatric dentists will assess your child’s situation, ask questions about their access to fluoride, and determine if additional fluoride treatment may be needed. Should additional fluoride treatment be needed there are a number of treatment options including fluoride rinses, fluoride supplements, and fluoride varnish.
Call our office today to schedule an appointment for your child. We look forward to welcoming you and your child to our office.