Even kids with the best oral care habits need help protecting their teeth against tooth decay. Dentists promote the use of fluoride for an extra boost of protection that doesn’t require much effort. Fluoride naturally assists the enamel in staying strong against bacterial attacks and recovering from cavity causing efforts through the re-mineralization process. Here are three ways to help your child receive the benefits of fluoride.
After your child has his or her teeth cleaned, your kid’s dentist will recommend a quick fluoride application to finish up the appointment. Dentists apply the fluoride by painting a varnish onto the tooth surface or using a foam tray that forms around the teeth which contains a foam fluoride. The fluoride penetrates the enamel, or outer layer of the tooth, to act as a shield against bacteria. The fluoride is perfectly safe to directly apply to the teeth.
To retain protection from fluoride, your child will need to brush with fluoridated toothpaste daily. Just like with the varnish or foam, fluoride from the toothpaste enters the enamel and creates a protective barrier. The fluoride concentrations in the teeth start to decrease as the pH level in the saliva drops from acidic attacks from bacteria. Acidic foods and drinks can lower the pH of saliva drastically, which helps the bacteria that create acid, to demineralize enamel and cause cavities. This is why it’s a good idea to brush with toothpaste after meals, especially when acidic beverages (soda or citrus juices) or acidic foods (tomatoes, oranges, lemons) have been consumed!
Fluoride in water acts as an additional barrier against cavity production. After drinking fluoridated water, your child’s saliva contains a small amount of fluoride that can protect the teeth if internal fluoride storage of the teeth runs out. This is especially important if your child forgets to use toothpaste to brush his or her teeth two to three times a day.
Sticking With the Plan
If you cannot drink your tap water or if it does not contain fluoride, you might think about picking up bottled water that contains a dose of fluoride to continue protecting your child’s teeth from the decay process. Fluoride use is an important part of the dental care routine if you want your child to avoid tooth decay in the future.