There’s a very good reason why pediatric dentists are concerned about your family’s water supply—it’s extremely important for your child to be getting fluoride. Fluoride is a major part of the exchange of mineral and bacteria on teeth, and for children under six it plays a very important role in the formation of permanent teeth.
What Is Fluoride?
A naturally occurring mineral, fluoride helps rebuild a tooth’s enamel that can be damaged and worn down by the acids created from plaque bacteria. Along with calcium and phosphate, fluoride is introduced into the mouth and helps to strengthen teeth, reversing decay and preventing cavities. While adults benefit from added fluoride, it’s most important for teeth from the 6thm month of life to the 16th year.
During this time frame both primary and permanent teeth are still developing. So, additional fluoride will play an important role in helping to strengthen enamel and prevent the tooth decay that affects many young children. While some people might have concerns about negative side effects from fluoride, both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have deemed it safe for children.
Where Can Fluoride Be Found?
Many communities add fluoride directly into the water supply, so the regular water from the tap will be a sufficient source already. The ADA has also approved fluoridated water for use with baby formula, so that children can start getting the benefits of fluoride as soon as possible.
If you’re not sure whether or not your city’s water supply is fluoridated, contact the local utilities department. In the event that your water supply does not contain fluoride, there are many options available. First, fluoridated water is often sold in many supermarkets as well as a large supply of toothpastes that contain fluoride. Fluoride is also present in many common foods, providing a balanced diet for your child, which also emphasizes calcium and vitamin D, will help overall oral health.
If you have concerns about the amount of fluoride your child is getting, talk to your dentist. For children that are at high risk for decay and cavities, your pediatric dentist might recommend additional doses through a topical treatment or fluoride tablet.