Fluoride has several ways to help with tooth decay. It inhibits loss of minerals from tooth enamel and encourages enamel remineralization (strengthening areas that are weakened and beginning to develop cavities). Fluoride also affects bacteria that cause cavities, discouraging acid attacks that break down the tooth. Risk for decay is reduced even more when fluoride is combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene. Optimizing fluoride levels in water supplies is an ideal public health measure because it is effective and inexpensive and does not require conscious daily cooperation from individuals. Since most cities in Oregon do not have fluoridated water we recommend fluoride tablets for children up to nine years of age. Once a child has reached nine years of age the enamel on their teeth has developed, although the teeth have not yet all erupted.
Fluoride can be found in bottled water, juice, infant formula, prepared food, toothpaste and some soda drinks. Check the label to see if your favorite products have fluoride added. It is possible to receive too much fluoride and develop a condition called fluorosis. This is usually white specks or streaks on the teeth that are often unnoticeable, but can be severe and cause the enamel to become pitted with brown discoloration.
We recommend topical fluoride once every six months here in the office at check up appointments. This is usually applied to the teeth with a tray of flavored foam that is held against the teeth for about one minute. It can also be brushed or painted on the enamel. We understand not all parents want their children to have fluoride treatment and will honor your request.