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Oral Health Buzz

Why Use Fluoride for Children?

Anne Maria Wynter

Most adults dread the word "cavity," and there's a good chance your little ones feel the same way. While brushing, flossing and attending regular dental visits are great steps you can take to make sure your kids get a clean, "no cavities" report, there's another secret weapon your kids can use in the fight against tooth decay. That weapon is fluoride, which is a natural mineral that helps strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay. So how can you make sure you're providing the right amount of fluoride for children in your family? Keep reading to find out.

What's the Easiest Way for Children to Benefit from Fluoride?

One of the best ways to get added cavity prevention is as simple as turning on the tap and drinking a glass of water. Most communities in the United States have fluoridated tap water, which means the water naturally contains the appropriate levels of fluoride or that fluoride has been added to it. The Centers for Disease Control reports that water fluoridation can reduce tooth decay in children by between 18 percent and 40 percent.

Keep in mind that many types of bottled water don't contain fluoride, so you may be missing out on the cavity-preventing benefits for kids if your family only drinks pre-packaged water. There's a similar concern about home water filters, many of which may remove this helpful mineral from the tap. If you need a water filter, find one that has the ADA Seal of Approval, which certifies that the filter won't strip fluoride from your water.

How Else Can Children Gain Exposure to Fluoride?

Beyond drinking fluoridated water, you can also ensure that your children get enough of this substance by brushing their teeth with a toothpaste that has fluoride in it. Toothpastes with fluoride help strengthen tooth enamel and give children a twice daily added exposure to the substance. You can also get additional cavity-fighting power by incorporating a mouthwash with fluoride into your child's tooth care routine.

While both of these additions can be helpful, you'll want to make sure you child is old enough to use the toothpaste or the mouthwash without swallowing either substance. The American Dental Association notes that parents should not recommend that their kids use a fluoride toothpaste until age two and fluoride mouthwash until age six.

You can also make sure you provide enough fluoride for children in your family by giving them fluoride supplements, which are ingested and have the same effects as fluoridated water. These supplements - which can be administered as tablets or drops - are prescribed by a doctor and used as supplements for kids living in areas without sufficient levels of water fluoridation.

Using fluoride for children is an effective way to make sure your little ones have the healthiest smiles possible. To find out more about whether your child is getting the right levels of fluoride, talk to your family dentist about your child's tooth care routine.

Learn more about fluoride in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: Flickr - Tony Alter

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