Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay.
It’s a mineral naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. It not only helps prevent tooth decay, it can repair teeth in the very early, microscopic stages of the disease.
Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it’s not enough to help prevent decay.
- Topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth enamel.
- They strengthen the teeth by seeping into the surface of the enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during check-ups.
- Systemic fluorides are swallowed.
- Examples include fluoridated water and dietary fluoride supplements. Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for infants, and tablets are best suited for children up through the teen years.
IMPORTANT: Monitor the amounts of fluoride that children ingest. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing, a condition called fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may result.