Most adults dread the word cavity, and there are good chances that children will feel the same. Although making regular visits to the dentist, and ensuring your child brushes their teeth after every meal are good ways to keep cavities away, there is another secret to fighting tooth decay in children: Flouride.
This is a natural mineral that helps strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay. It also makes tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars.
So how can children benefit from fluoride?
One of the best ways to get that added cavity prevention is as simple as turning on the tap and drinking from it.
In most urban areas, the tap waters are fluoridated, which means when a child drinks from it, they will get all the minerals required for strong teeth. Various studies indicate that fluoridated water reduces the risk of tooth decay in children by between 18 and 40 per cent.
Also, keep in mind that most types of bottled mineral water do not contain fluoride, so if you stick to drinking only this type of water, you may be missing out on the vital cavity preventing components.
Other sources of fluoride
Beyond drinking fluoridated water, you can also ensure that your children get this mineral through toothpaste. Just like water, fluoridated toothpaste helps to strengthen tooth enamel in children. While this addition can be helpful, you should ensure your child is old enough to use the toothpaste without swallowing it. It is recommended that toothpaste that contains fluoride should not be given to children who are less than two years.
Another alternative to water and toothpaste is giving your children fluoride supplements, which can be ingested and have the same effects as fluoridated water.
These supplements can be administered as tablets or drops, and must be prescribed by a doctor. These supplements are commonly used in places where children do not have access to fluoridated water.
To find out if your child is getting the right amount of fluoride, talk to your family dentist about their routine tooth care.
The writer is a dentist