Am I Getting Enough Fluoride?
Since fluoride is really only taken to protect the teeth, it’s your dentist who is going to see when extra fluoride is needed. They are also in the perfect position to monitor your situation and adjust it accordingly, that is assuming you go to see a dentist.
The more high risk you are for dental caries, the more benefit you will get from having regular fluoride treatments at your dentist. For those of you who are low risk and can’t remember the last time you had a filling, using a fluoride toothpaste is generally all you need.
Brushing your teeth; simply spitting out the toothpaste and NOT rinsing- last thing before you go to bed- is like giving yourself a mini fluoride treatment. In fact, every time you brush, that is exactly what you are doing.
If you are high caries risk (whatever your age) then extra fluoride is crucial to help protect your teeth and prevent cavities. Caries risk takes into account many different factors. Here are a few related questions which if you answer ‘yes’ to, then these are signs extra fluoride may be needed:
(i) Are you wearing orthodontic braces?
(ii) Are you wearing a partial denture?
(iii) Do you suffer dry mouth or xerostomia?
(iv) Have you had radiation to the head and neck?
(v) Do you always need lots of dental treatment?
(vi) Do you have new cavities every time you go to the dentist?
(vii) Has your dentist told you that you have early dental caries in your mouth? (enamel caries on bite wing X-rays)
(viii) Do you have lots of recession and root surfaces exposed?
Does your Child need More Fluroide?
It is always a good idea to check whether water in your area is fluoridated- if it isn’t, then suitable supplements on your dentist’s recommendations are a good idea especially whilst teeth are developing. This is going to have a huge impact protecting your child’s teeth, at least until your child starts using a fluoridated toothpaste.
Your dentist will be able to tell you if your child should be getting some more fluoride based on their:
(iii) Other sources of fluoride they are getting
(iv) Risk of fluorosis
Guidelines are issued by general and regional authorities for the dentist to consider and use in order to tailor their advice for your child.
It is only likely to be necessary, if the child is ‘high caries risk’ and there is less than 0.3ppm in the water supply; that basically means non-fluoridated areas. No supplements should be given if the levels are over 0.7ppm.
The need for extra fluoride should be regularly reviewed and adjusted if necessary by your dentist. Any supplements should be stored safely away from any prying or curious hands.
Supplements are best taken every day, as a regular low dose gives the best results. If you miss a day, don’t make up for it the next day- it doesn’t work like that.
Sometimes the preventative effect against decay will outweigh the potential cosmetic effect of extra fluoride (mild fluorosis. This is often the case if the patient is medically compromised, that is physically or mentally handicapped, or when such infection could pose a risk to their general health.
Should I have Fluoride if I am Pregnant?
It has been debated whether fluoride treatment should be started in pregnant mothers to benefit the child’s developing teeth. As such, I am always getting questions from mothers to be and nursing mothers about fluoride and whether they should be avoiding it or taking it.
Now, whilst safe to take, fluoride supplements during pregnancy is reported to have relatively little impact on your child’s teeth through into the future. Fluoride can pass through the placenta but the concentration that reaches the baby is very low and so opinion tends to be, that there is no need for extra fluoride before birth, or up until 6 months of age.
The crucial period is really between 5 and 6 years old, when the enamel of the developing adult teeth is being formed and all the way up to the age of 12, where fluoride continues to be absorbed by the teeth from the fluid around them (called tissue fluid).