Acid, plaque, and germs in your mouth can destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities. Fluoride, a natural mineral, is one of the most important tools in the fight against cavities. It’s been shown to:
- Prevent the growth of harmful oral bacteria
- Slow down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel
- Reverse early signs of tooth decay
Is fluoride safe?
Sixty-five years of studies have shown that fluoride is safe. Just as Vitamin D is added to milk, fluoride is added to the drinking water in many cities and towns. Fluoride is also included in over-the-counter products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and supplements. Bottled water doesn’t usually have fluoride, and refrigerator filters may eliminate it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found adding fluoride to water reduced cavities in children and adults by at least 25%, even people who use fluoride toothpaste.
Who needs fluoride treatments?
While you likely benefit from the addition of fluoride in your drinking water and toothpaste, if you’re more susceptible to certain dental conditions, additional treatments may be needed.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends getting a professional fluoride treatment at your dentist’s office every three, six, or 12 months, depending on the state of your oral health. If you’re at high risk for developing cavities, your dentist may also prescribe a special fluoride rinse or gel to use at home.
Fluoride for kids
The ADA advises consulting your dentist or physician before using a fluoride toothpaste for children under 2 years of age. Small children need to use only a limited amount of toothpaste:
- For children younger than 3 years of age, use a very small amount, about the size of a grain of rice
- For children 3-6 years of age, a pea-sized amount is recommended
The ADA also recommends that all children undergo a cavity risk assessment by a dentist. If your child is at high risk of developing cavities, your dentist can develop a personalized prevention plan for them that can include fluoride supplements, toothpaste, or professional topical applications.
It’s never too early to begin a lifetime of good dental health.