Fluoridation, is one of the most effective and economical method of protecting the tooth against decay, and is one of the greatest achievements in the history of public health. Like vaccination and chlorination, this is one of the many controversial public health measures of its time. Let’s, however try and unravel the mystery of Fluoride, solve some of the queries and dispel some of the myths surrounding its use.

1. What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral found in soil, water (both fresh and salt) and various foods and beverages.

2. How does fluoride prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride has a positive effect on oral health by making teeth more resistant to decay. Fluoride can also prevent or even reverse tooth decay that has started. Fluoride benefits both children and adults.

3. Where do I get the fluoride that prevents tooth decay?

Fluoride toothpastes and rinses are available for purchase, and your dentist can provide professional fluoride products such as gels and varnish.

4. What is dental fluorosis?

Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of the teeth. It is caused when higher than optimal amounts of fluoride are ingested in early childhood. In its mildest and most common form, it affects the look of the tooth with small white specks appearing on a child’s teeth. In the rare, severe form of dental fluorosis, pits may form on the tooth’s surface. Enamel fluorosis occurs only when permanent teeth are forming under the gums. Once teeth break through the gums, they cannot develop enamel fluorosis.

5. Should I be using fluoridated toothpaste for my child?

For children from birth to 3 years of age, the use of fluoridated toothpaste is determined by the level of risk of tooth decay. Parents should consult a health professional to determine whether their child upto 3 years of age is at risk of developing tooth decay. If such a risk exists, the child’s teeth should be brushed by an adult using a minimal amount (a portion the size of a grain of rice) of fluoridated toothpaste. Use of fluoridated toothpaste in a small amount has been determined to achieve a balance between the benefits of fluoride and the risk of developing fluorosis. For children from 3 to 6 years of age, only a small amount (a portion the size of a green pea) of fluoridated toothpaste should be used.

6. Why do young children need to be assisted or supervised with tooth brushing?

Young children tend to swallow toothpaste when they are brushing, which may increase their exposure to fluoride and contribute to dental fluorosis. For this reason, young children need to be assisted or supervised with tooth brushing. An adult need to ensure that an appropriate amount of toothpaste is used, that the child spits out the toothpaste rather than swallows it, and that the teeth are cleaned effectively.

7. How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride protection?

Your dentist is able to assess your child’s risk of developing tooth decay and advice you of an appropriate level of fluoride protection.

8. What can I do to decrease the chances that my child’s teeth will develop fluorosis?

1) You can breast feed. Breast milk is very low in fluoride. Nursing mothers or pregnant women who drink fluoridated water do not pass on significant amounts of fluoride to their child.
2) You can use ready-to-feed formula.
3) You can use powdered or liquid concentrate formula mixed with water that either is fluoride-free or has low concentrations of fluoride.

9. How is dental fluorosis treated?

There are a few different ways that dental fluorosis can be treated:

  1. Porcelain Laminate Veneers
  2. Enamel Microabrasion
  3. Direct Composite Veneers or Composite Bonding
  4. Dental Crown


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