5 Ways For Your Child To Get The Proper Amount Of Fluoride
If your child is at high-risk for tooth decay, it is important that you talk to their dentist about your child's access to fluoride. Fluoride can help remineralize teeth and prevent cavities, but only if your child is receiving the proper amount for their age. Luckily, there are several ways for your child to receive fluoride, and you and your child's dentist can create a plan for fluoride treatment that works for your child.
Perhaps the easiest way to ensure that your child is getting the proper amount of fluoride in their diet is to allow your child to drink fluoridated water. You can tell if your tap water is fluoridated by looking up your water supply through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website.
If your water supply is not fluoridated, you may want to have your child drink bottled water that is fluoridated. The problem with this is that although the maximum amount of fluoride allowed in bottled water is regulated, it can be difficult to find out if your bottled water is supplying enough fluoride for your child. For this reason, you may want to consider fluoride supplements instead.
Tablets or Drops
Fluoride supplements come in drops and tablets. Drops can be applied to your child's tongue, and then they should be encouraged to drink water after receiving a drop. These are ideal for babies who have not started solids or children who do not like the idea of pills or tablets.
Tablets can generally be swallowed immediately, chewed, or allowed to dissolve in your child's mouth. Your child may progress to tablets after they have mastered eating solids and the tablet no longer presents a choking hazard to them.
Your pediatric dentist will prescribe the appropriate dosage for your child's size and age, taking into consideration other sources of fluoride in their life. You should not supplement your child's diet with fluoride drops or tablets without your dentist's recommendation, as too much fluoride can cause fluoridosis, a slight discoloration of your child's adult teeth.
Topical Fluoride Solution
Topical fluoride solution can be applied at home or in the dental office. Home solutions tend to be weaker. You may apply the solution once or twice a day, after brushing your child's teeth. The solution should remain on your child's teeth for as long as possible, as the saliva in your child's mouth will help activate the solution. After half an hour or longer (depending on the solution), your child should be encouraged to rinse their mouth. There are some home solutions that are made to be swallowed, which is ideal for younger children who cannot spit efficiently.
Stronger fluoride solutions are available in your dentist's office. However, very young children may have a difficult time sitting for the application and rinsing of the the fluoride solution.
Fluoride toothpaste is another excellent way to apply topical fluoride to your child's teeth. Previous recommendations stated that you should not use fluoride toothpaste on your child until they can reliably spit out their toothpaste. However, new recommendations state that you should use a small amount, no bigger than a grain of rice, on your baby's teeth, and a pea-sized amount of the teeth of your older children.
Fluoride rinses are another way to apply topical fluoride to your children's teeth. However, these are only for older children as the risk of a toddler or young child swallowing the rinse is too great.
While fluoride has many benefits, getting the correct dosage is critical. Before making any changes in your child's diet or teeth cleaning habits, you should discuss your concerns with their dentist.