Fluoride plays a large part in the dental health of Canadians, both in the tap water we drink and the treatments we receive at the dentist, but have you ever wondered what fluoride is and how it works? The Canadian Dental Association has a great Fluoride FAQs to answer all your fluoride questions. Below are some highlights:
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral found in soil, water (both fresh and salt) and various foods.
How does fluoride prevent tooth decay?
Fluoride has a positive effect on oral health by making teeth more resistant to decay. Fluoride can also prevent or even reverse tooth decay that has started.
Where do I get the fluoride that prevents tooth decay?
For many Canadians, fluoride is in public drinking water, which provides protection to the entire community. Fluoride toothpastes and rinses are available for purchase, and your dentist can provide professional fluoride products such as gels and varnish.
Why is fluoride added to the public drinking water if it is available in other ways?
Fluoride is added to public drinking water to protect all members of the community from tooth decay. Community water fluoridation is a safe and effective way of preventing tooth decay at a low cost.
Who watches the fluoride levels in the drinking water?
The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water makes recommendations about the optimal level of fluoride in public drinking water to prevent tooth decay. The recommended level takes into account that Canadians receive fluoride from other sources such as food and beverages.
Are there any health risks associated with water fluoridation?
With the exception of dental fluorosis, scientific studies have not found any credible link between water fluoridation and adverse health effects.
Should I be using fluoridated toothpaste with my child?
For children from birth to 3 years of age, the use of fluoridated toothpaste is determined by the level of risk of tooth decay. Parents should consult a health professional to determine whether their child up to 3 years of age is at risk of developing tooth decay. If such a risk exists, the child’s teeth should be brushed by an adult using a minimal amount (a portion the size of a grain of rice) of fluoridated toothpaste. Use of fluoridated toothpaste in a small amount has been determined to achieve a balance between the benefits of fluoride and the risk of developing fluorosis. If the child is not considered to be at risk, the teeth should be brushed by an adult using a toothbrush moistened only with water.
For children from 3 to 6 years of age, only a small amount (a portion the size of a green pea) of fluoridated toothpaste should be used. Children in this age group should be assisted by an adult in brushing their teeth.
How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride protection?
Your dentist is able to assess your child’s risk of developing tooth decay and advise you of an appropriate level of fluoride protection.