One of the best defenses against tooth decay is fluoride.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring salt that helps harden tooth enamel and even helps teeth repair themselves. When a small cavity starts to form the body uses fluoride to reverse that process and remineralize the tooth. You can get the fluoride you need in two ways: topically (through direct contact with the teeth) and systemically (by ingesting it so it enters the blood stream).
Today in the U.S. most of us get the fluoride we need through a combination of topical and systematic fluoride. We brush with fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluoridated tap water. If it were not for fluoride, very few of us would still have our natural teeth into our later years.
Children need fluoride from birth to about 16 years of age. They get some from tap water but we also provide fluoride treatments as part of regular dental care in the office. Once your child is old enough to spit toothpaste out (as opposed to swallowing it) you can begin using a children’s toothpaste with fluoride.
Fluoride is so ubiquitous in our lives that we don’t realize that it is a chemical compound and getting too much can be a problem. Be sure that your child doesn’t experience any adverse effects from fluoride, and follow these basic rules:
If you think suspect that your child has ingested fluoride, treat it as any other poisoning episode and call 911 right way.