Fluoride and Your Child
Pediatric Dental Care in Omaha, NE
At Pedodontics, P.C., we strive to provide world-class pediatric dental and orthodontic treatment to patients throughout the greater Omaha, NE area. Our team of pediatric dentists and orthodontists work individually with patients to create personalized treatment plans, and we take a holistic approach to achieving a healthy smile in the long-term. One important part of keeping your child’s teeth healthy is ensuring they get enough fluoride.
Why Is Fluoride Important?
Tooth decay is one of the most common preventable diseases – but without the introduction of fluoride to public water supplies, it would be even more common than it already is. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral found in certain sources of spring and well water, and it’s a critical building block for tooth enamel. In proper concentrations, fluoride helps to keep teeth strong and prevent the development of cavities, which is why virtually every pediatric dental association supports the current concentration of water to 0.70 parts per million (PPM).
Fact: The federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has called tap water fluoridation the most significant health achievement of the past century.
What Does Fluoride Do for Teeth?
The hard outer surface of the teeth is called enamel, and it’s subjected to daily attacks from acid-producing bacteria and acidic foods. Over time, this acid breaks down the tooth enamel, and if left untreated long enough, this breakdown can create a cavity: a hole in the enamel. Fluoride acts to re-mineralize tooth enamel, incorporating itself into the crystalline structure of the tooth and hardening to make the tooth resistant to attack. Even if a small cavity has started to form, fluoride can re-strengthen the area and repair it before the cavity gets worse.
How Can My Child Get Fluoride?
If you live in an area with fluoridated water, your child’s teeth will absorb fluoride simply by drinking the tap water. For many children and adults, this is a sufficient level of fluoride to keep the teeth healthy – but sometimes, it’s not enough. Many people live in areas without a fluoridated water supply, and some children may need supplemental fluoride to prevent or reverse decay.
Using a fluoridated toothpaste is another great way to ensure your child gets enough fluoride. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for kids 2-6 and a tiny smear for kids under two, but never use toothpaste on children younger than 6 months old. Finally, if we decide that your child needs a higher dose of fluoride, we can apply medical-strength fluoride gels to the teeth in our office to strengthen them and promote healthy development.
Can My Child Get Too Much Fluoride?
Fluoride is a vital mineral in the right amount – but if your child gets too much fluoride, they may develop a condition called fluorosis. Fluorosis generally occurs only if your child gets too much fluoride while their teeth are still developing below the gumline. Mild fluorosis causes the teeth to form with white spots that are relatively hard to see, while more severe cases can cause darker discoloration with a pitted texture – however, severe fluorosis is incredibly rare. The condition is completely harmless but may require cosmetic treatment later in life.
The risk of fluorosis ends around the time your child turns 9. Until then, we’re happy to talk with you about the amount of fluoride your child is receiving and make recommendations for how to ensure the correct amount. Above all, it’s important to ensure your child gets a sufficient amount of fluoride to protect their teeth. Fluorosis is merely a cosmetic condition with no health effects – but dental decay can be a painful, serious problem.
Schedule a Consultation with Your Omaha, NE Pediatric Dentist
Feel free to reach out to us at our contact page if you have more questions about fluoride, pediatric dental care, or your child’s dental health in general. As your dedicated Omaha dentist, we’re committed to helping you and your child achieve and maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. We can’t wait to hear from you, and we hope to see you at our office for an appointment soon!