Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations.
Topical fluoride strengthens erupted teeth by incorporating into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups. Depending on their risk factors, your dentist may recommend supplemental fluoride for children who may be at higher risk for tooth decay. Drops are recommended for infants, and tablets are best suited for children up through the teen years. Your dentist can discuss risk factors with you at your child’s dental appointment. It is very important to monitor the amounts of fluoride a child ingests. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing, a condition called fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may result.
Although some people receive fluoride from food and water, Sonoma County municipal water supplies and natural well water do not contain fluoride (with the exception of Healdsburg city water). Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.