Healthy smiles start with fluoride. It’s essential for building strong teeth and preventing cavities in children. Adults need fluoride too. Whether from toothpaste, water, or in-office dental treatments. MDA dentists share how fluoride keeps your smile covered.
The Protective Power of Fluoride
This mighty mineral has the power to protect your teeth from tooth decay, cavities, and other oral illnesses. So how does this defender of dental health shield your smile against damage? We’ll let MDA dentist Dr. Saeung explain.
The Quick Take on Fluoride
In short, when it’s present in your saliva, fluoride penetrates tooth enamel and forms a brand-new, stronger defensive barrier around your enamel. This protective covering makes your teeth more resistant to destruction from the sugars and acids in foods you eat and beverages you drink.
Kids & Fluoride: Building Healthy Smiles
Developing mouths need fluoride to build strong, healthy smiles. Fluoride helps fortify baby teeth and encourages forming grown-up teeth to emerge healthy and strong. It also keeps tiny teeth covered against acid attacks from foods and beverages and helps them stay cavity-free. When children receive adequate fluoride, their oral health and overall health benefit.
Coverage Against Childhood Cavities
Fluoride is essential for preventing and protecting against cavities, a leading chronic illness in children. Chronic cavities are painful, lead to more complicated dental problems, and impact a child’s oral and overall health. This destructive dental disease is entirely preventable–with the help of fluoride1.
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Children who brush daily with fluoride-based toothpaste are shown to have fewer cavities.
- Children living in communities where fluoride is present in the water system have fewer cavities and other oral illnesses.
- Fluoride varnish stops approximately one-third of cavities in primary teeth2.
Regular dental visits and a good daily oral care routine that includes fluoride toothpaste significantly reduce childhood dental disease.
MDA Dentist-Approved Fluoride Tips for Tiny Teeth
Establishing healthy oral care habits begins by making brushing a part of a child’s daily routine from a young age. MDA dentists recommend that caregivers supervise brushing in young children to nurture positive habits. Keep an eye on their brushing until they’re old enough to tie their shoes—usually around 6.
Caregivers can encourage healthy oral care habits by:
- Helping young children under 3 brush twice daily with a rice-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste.
- Supervising kids aged 3-6 as they brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste3.
- Checking that older children and adolescents continue to brush their teeth twice daily.
- Ensuring children drink plenty of fluoridated tap water.
- Talking to your family’s MDA dentist about fluoride treatments.
Remember, it starts with you! When adults model healthy oral care habits, they help and empower children to take control of their daily oral care as they get older.
The Best Sources of Fluoride
Fluoride is a naturally occurring trace mineral found in soil and certain foods, including raisins, potatoes, oats, rice, and lean meats4. But rarely do we get enough fluoride from our diet alone. That’s why MDA dentists recommend using fluoride toothpaste and other fluoride-based products.
Getting Enough Fluoride to Keep Your Smile Covered
For adults, MDA dentists recommend:
- Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Using a fluoride mouth rinse before bed.
- Drinking fluoridated tap water.
- Asking your dental care team if in-office fluoride treatments are right for you.
- Prescription-level fluoride products for certain at-risk patients.
Health Benefits of Community Water Fluoridation
Community water fluoridation is a safe, healthy, and effective tool in the fight against cavities in children and adults. Over seventy-five years of research back the benefits of community water fluoridation. Even with the wide availability of fluoride from other sources like toothpaste, water fluoridation continues to reduce dental decay for children and adults by over 25 percent5.
Bottled Water Drinkers? Consider This…
Those who opt for bottled or filtered water miss out on the benefits of fluoride. Well water drinkers also don’t get the same regular access to fluoride through their home water supply. That doesn’t mean you have to put down the water bottle. After all, water is the best way to stay hydrated.
At your next visit, talk to your MDA dentist and their dental care team about fluoride treatments. Tell your MDA dentist if your children don’t drink fluoridated tap water. They may need routine fluoride treatments to aid in healthy dental development.
Community Water Fluoridation: Further Resources
Community water fluoridation started as a longitudinal study in Grand Rapids in 1945 and soon became the standard for water systems across the nation6. Over several decades, this landmark achievement in public health has contributed to a significant decline in cavities across the US.
Community water fluoridation is recommended by the leading national and global public health, medical, and dental organizations, including:
Talk to Your MDA Dentist About Fluoride
Still have questions about fluoride? Ask your MDA dentist at your next visit. Your MDA dentist and their dental care team are always happy to answer any questions you have about your oral health.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children’s Oral Health. Division of Oral Health: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Reviewed 2022 Apr 6. Accessed online: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Oral Health Surveillance Report: Trends in Dental Caries and Sealants, Tooth Retention, and Edentulism, United States, 1999–2004 to 2011–2016. CDC/US Dept of Health and Human Services; Atlanta, GA. 2019. Accessed online: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/publications/OHSR-2019-index.html
- American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs. Association Reports: Fluoride toothpaste use for young children. J Am Dent. 2014;145(2):190-191. Accessed online: https://doi.org/10.14219/jada.2013.47
- National Institutes of Health (NIH). Fluoride: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements; Bethesda, MD. Updated 2022 Apr 4. Accessed online: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Fluoride-HealthProfessional/
- American Dental Association (ADA). Fluoridation FAQs. ADA Resources. Accessed online: https://www.ada.org/resources/community-initiatives/fluoride-in-water/fluoridation-faqs
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Water Fluoridation Basics. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Oral Health. Updated 2021 Oct 1. Accessed online: https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/basics/index.htm
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Fluoride Remains a Powerful Tool to Prevent Tooth Decay. AAP News Release. 2020 Nov 30. Accessed online: https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2020/american-academy-of-pediatrics-fluoride-remains-a-powerful-tool-to-prevent-tooth-decay/
- American Dental Association (ADA). Fluoride in Water. ADA Resources. Accessed online: https://www.ada.org/resources/community-initiatives/fluoride-in-water
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Community Water Fluoridation. Division of Oral Health: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Reviewed 2020 Jan 15. Accessed online: https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/index.html
- National Institutes of Health (NIH): National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The Story of Fluoride. NIH/NIDCR; Bethesda, MD. Updated 2018 Jul. Accessed online: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/fluoride/the-story-of-fluoridation
- World Health Organization (WHO). Oral Health. WHO. 2022 Mar 15. Accessed online: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/oral-health