What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral found in rock, soil, air, plants and water. Many foods and drinks naturally contain fluoride. It is not a medication. Fluoride can also come be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, water from a fluoridated water supply and products prescribed by dentists. Studies show that frequent exposure to low levels of fluoride from toothpaste and drinking water is most beneficial in the reduction of dental decay. The sunshine coast’s water is fluoridated. When fluoridated water is not available, or in the case of patients who are at high risk of dental decay, then extra fluoride in the form of a fluoride supplements, mouthwash or gel may be recommended by your dentist.

Why is Fluoride important for teeth?

Fluoride is important for both adults and children in the prevention of dental decay. Fluoride acts to protect and strengthen tooth enamel making it more resistant to acid attack. Fluoride also helps to remineralise teeth, preventing early decay from getting worse.

Fluoride in Toothpaste

Young children under six years of age should use “baby strength” fluoride toothpaste. Up until three years of age only a smear of toothpaste on the toothbrush is required. From three years of age, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is recommended. From six years of age “six plus” toothpaste with increased fluoride is recommended.

Both adults and children are encouraged to spit out the toothpaste after brushing, not to rinse with water, as this will wash away much of the fluoride.

For extra protection a fluoride mouthrinse used between brushing times especially for those at higher risk for dental decay is beneficial. Although children under the age of 6 years should not use mouthrinses as they are more likely to swallow it then spit it out.

Fluoride is natural and safe for both adults and children. It is one of the most effective ways to strengthen the teeth and protect against dental decay. Fluoride in water and toothpaste is an important way to prevent dental decay. Your dentist or dental hygienist can offer the best advice for additional fluoride products.

Abstract adapted from the Australian Dental Association (ADA)

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