Fluoride is a mineral that helps fight tooth decay. It is found in public water supplies, toothpaste and many other dental products.
Often called, “nature’s cavity fighter,” fluoride helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay can be seen. Research shows that fluoride helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, you are preventing cavities and strengthening your teeth’s enamel.
If you have a good chance of getting cavities, your dentist will apply fluoride varnish or fluoride gel during your dental visit. Your dentist might also tell you to use a special fluoride rinse, paste or gel at home.
The American Dental Association recommends that children and adults use fluoride toothpaste displaying the ADA Seal of Acceptance. For children younger than 3 years, caregivers should begin brushing their children’s teeth as soon as they start to appear in the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. You should be brushing your children’s teeth thoroughly twice a day (morning and night) or as directed by your dentist or physician. For children 3 to 6 years of age, caregivers should dispense no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and brush teeth thoroughly twice per day. Always supervise your child’s brushing to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste and try and get your child to spit out most of the toothpaste.