Fluoride—a natural mineral found in rocks and water—protects your teeth from dental decay. Water fluoridation improves the health of your teeth and gums, and children who brush with fluoride toothpaste every day have less tooth decay. In fact, it’s beneficial to use fluoride toothpaste in your child’s dental routine as soon as you introduce brushing. Let’s talk about fluoride.
What Are the Benefits of Fluoride?
Fluoride is one of the CDC's ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. Countless studies have shown the positive effects of water fluoridation. In 2007, the Journal of Dental Research—a peer-reviewed scientific journal that reviews various aspects of dentistry—analyzed nine studies and found fluoride reduced dental decay by an impressive 27 percent. Another study from the American Journal of Public Health found that children who consume fluoridated water are less likely to experience tooth decay later in life. Additional research discovered that teenagers who lived in a community without water fluoridation had a higher risk of developing dental problems.
So, why is fluoride so effective? This mineral prevents decay by making your teeth more resistant against acid from foods and drinks. This minimizes the amount of plaque in your mouth and improves the condition of your teeth and gums. Fluoride also strengthens tooth enamel—the glossy mineralized substance that covers and protects your teeth.
Fluoride is also effective when applied to your teeth. Experts say fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwashes boost fluoride levels for several hours after application and increase remineralization—the process of replacing lost tooth minerals.
Can I Use Fluoride for My Toddler?
One of the biggest myths surrounding fluoride is that it's dangerous for children under the age of 2. The American Dental Association actually advises that parents use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush their baby's teeth as soon as a dental routine is in place. Using fluoride at this early age fights against tooth cavities, they say.
Fluoride is also beneficial for older children. An Australian study examined the effects of fluoridated water in children aged between 4 and 9 over a period of three years. Researchers found that the risk of missing, filled or decayed teeth reduced by 54 percent after the children consumed fluoridated water.
Fluoride provides your teeth and gums with multiple benefits. This mineral replenishes lost tooth minerals, removes plaque buildup, and reduces dental decay. Moreover, it's completely safe to use—even for children. Look for fluoride-based products to improve your oral hygiene and restore your tooth enamel.