Fluoride And Your Child’s Oral Health

Fluoride And Your Child’s Oral Health

How can the mineral fluoride impact your child’s oral health? Learn more in this blog from Chestnut Dental.

What Are Common Dental Concerns For Children?

  • Thumb & Pacifier Habits. Thumb-sucking or using a pacific can be comforting to babies and toddlers. Most children outgrow this habit at around 2-4 years of age. Consult your dentist if your child does not stop before their adult teeth erupt, as the habit can create teeth alignment or bite issues.

  • Gum Disease. This is caused by plaque accumulation but can be prevented with daily brushing and flossing.

  • Tooth Erosion. This occurs when the acidic chemicals in candies or soda and sports drinks wear away at the enamel covering of teeth.

  • Teeth Grinding. This is an involuntary habit that can be addressed with a nightguard so that children do not damage permanent adult teeth.

  • Tooth Decay. Cavities are one of the most prevalent concerns for children, occurring five times more often than asthma.

What Is Fluoride, And Where Is It From?

Fluoride is often advertised as a beneficial ingredient in oral hygiene products–but where is it from? Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that is in all living organisms on Earth. Found in rocks, it is released into the soil, water, and air, and can be absorbed by animals, plants, and humans. It is odorless and tasteless and can be found in many foods such as apples, cereal, almonds, and tea. Additionally, fluoride synthesized in labs is often added to dental hygiene products to prevent tooth decay because of its properties.

How Was The Connection Between Fluoride And Oral Health Discovered?

The positive effects of fluoride on oral health were first recognized in the early 1900s. Scientists noticed that people living in areas with a higher concentration of fluoride in the drinking water had stronger teeth and a lower rate of tooth decay than people living in places with less fluoride. 

Fluoride works by protecting the enamel of the teeth from plaque and sugars, as well as helping to rebuild healthy minerals in the teeth and fighting off existing decay. To take advantage of fluoride’s benefits, consider using dental hygiene products that contain the mineral or drinking tap water with fluoride. To find out if your tap water is fluoridated, contact your local water utility company or public health department, or check the CDC’s website.

What Are Other Tooth-Healthy Habits To Prevent Children From Getting Cavities?

Do you know how ingesting sugar can increase the risk of cavities? Bacteria in the mouth break down sugars and create acids, which mix with food debris and saliva to form plaque that sticks to the teeth. The acids in the plaque then damage the enamel surface of the teeth, resulting in cavities.

The three main sugars responsible for cavities are sucrose, fructose, and glucose. To reduce your child’s risk of cavities, make sure they eat three meals a day and two healthy snacks, and avoid eating in between meals or consuming food and snacks with fermentable carbohydrates.

Foods that increase the risk of cavities include gummy vitamins, fruit snacks, fruit roll-ups, dried fruits, and fermentable carbohydrates such as chips, pretzels, crackers, and cookies. Try to limit these snacks as much as possible.

Teeth-healthy snack substitutes include natural cheeses (string cheese, mozzarella), plain yogurt, vegetables, and fruit.

How Urgent Are Cavities?

It is important for people of all ages to visit their dentist if they have cavities, as dentists are trained to treat and repair them. If left untreated, however, cavities can lead to a tooth abscess, which is a painful infection of the tooth, as well as tooth loss and the potential for the infection to spread to other parts of the body. Therefore, it is essential to seek dental treatment for cavities as soon as possible.

If your child has a cavity or is in need of a routine check-up exam and professional cleaning, consider Chestnut Dental. Our pediatric dentists are specially trained to create a welcoming and comforting atmosphere for anxious children. Chestnut Dental is also glad to offer 24-hour emergency services to rescue our patients with dental injuries and accidents.

Chestnut Dental is proud to offer three locations to serve patients all over Massachusetts. With over 5 decades of experience refining the Chestnut Dental coordinated care model and offices open on Saturdays and during the evening, Chestnut Dental is ready for all your cosmetic, general, and restorative dentistry needs. If you are interested in improving your smile and self-esteem, get in touch with our experts in Bedford, Needham, or Franklin today.

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