February is the official National Children's Dental Health Month, as recognized by the ADA. Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry will be rolling out weekly topics relating to pediatric dentistry all month long. Make sure to check back regularly to catch all the great information.
Historically, fluoride recommendations for children have gone through a few revisions. Every year, the public health experts at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Dental Association (ADA) evaluate the latest research and recalibrate their suggestions on fluoride use. Data on the number of children with cavities, the number of cavities per child and access to fluoridated drinking water all weigh in on the latest guidelines.
Fortunately, if you live in Los Angeles or Ventura county and get your water from a major utilities provider, your tap water is properly fluoridated. The exact amount of fluoride varies by district, but generally hovers around 0.7 milligrams per liter. This number was recently lowered due to increased access and usage of fluoride toothpastes and varnishes by the general population. As long as you are drinking, cooking or rinsing with tap water, you and your family are getting a therapeutic dose of fluoride.
Previously, the ADA recommended against using fluoride toothpaste for children under the age of one. This was to combat the risk of fluorosis (fluoride induced discoloration of teeth) of the adult teeth during critical developmental phases. However, modern research shows that using a rice grain sized smear of paste is safe for children of all ages. Once teeth are visible in the mouth, we recommend attempting to brush twice daily. At about three years of age, you can up the amount to a pea sized portion of toothpaste. As with any medication, make sure your child isn't consuming large portions of toothpaste during brushing or otherwise.
What's off the recommendation list for fluoride? Supplements and vitamins. As it turns out, ingesting fluoride (like with a chewable vitamin) isn't nearly as effective as having the compound physically contact the tooth. In today's dental practice we will apply fluoride as a foam or varnish at periodic cleaning appointments. Allowing the fluoride to sit on the teeth undisturbed for 30 minutes is proven to limit the development of new cavities. Plus it comes in great flavors!
Due to diets and medical conditions, some children have an even higher risk of developing new tooth decay. Products like fluoride rinses, gels and even xylitol anticavity supplements are available to keep teeth healthy and decay free. If you would like to know more about fluoride, preventative dentistry and how to protect your kids' teeth, please give our office a call!