Do you know what kids just love? Dentists. Do you know what parents just love? Dental bills. Do you know what kids that grow up to be parents love? Dealing with the repercussions of not using basic, mouth-hygiene practice when they were younger.
Do you know what the number one way you as a parent can prevent your kids from having cavities, gum issues, and tooth decay? Fluoride.
That’s right. Smack a big ol’ glob of regular toothpaste on your child’s Sesame Street or Frozen toothbrush and get to work. Afterward, have your kid take a few swigs of fluoride-laced city water to complete your kid’s morning and night brushing routine.
To be fair, I’m not a dentist. However, I have orthodontists in my family. My best friend is a dental hygienist. My mom’s best friend is a pediatric dentist. And – having a toddler myself – I have spent significant time researching the topic of dental health because (seriously) who wants a child with painful tooth decay? Not me. And If my three-year-old understood what tooth decay meant, he would likely say he doesn’t want it either.
Let’s just clear up this whole “Boogie Man” myth surrounding fluoride, shall we? First of all, fluoride is a natural element that is found in a plethora of things in nature. Low concentrations of fluoride are found in all types of water: seawater, fresh water, rainwater, and even many water systems supplied by counties and cities.
Yes. Fluoride consumption in high doses can be toxic – no argument there. But, when discussing things like toxicity in relation to what we as humans use, consume, and can withstand, it’s really important that we take into account quantity. Alcohol – for instance – can be life-threatening if consumed in large quantities. But, in small quantities, we can drink it, have a nice buzz, then our bodies filter the alcohol out of our system using advanced and highly-effective filtering processes. Same is true with fluoride.
Here is why fluoride is SO important, especially during early childhood development:
Teeth are naturally porous. Building strong enamel to protect those pores is crucial. When teeth don’t have strong enamel, dental plaque breaks down dietary sugars and produces acid, which can then dissolve weak tooth enamel and dentin, usually resulting in cavities or tooth decay. This is PARTICULARLY true in children. Their teeth are very soft and porous and the enamel is very weak. That’s why it’s important to provide your children with proper tooth maintenance. You want them to develop strong enamel early on to prevent mouth issues later down the road.
Fluoride is THE most effective way to build strong enamel and to prevent acids from corroding the surface of the teeth. It’s the reason that – since the 1940’s – countries throughout the world have artificially added fluoride to their water supplies. No, the government isn’t out to poison your family. They just want to prevent tooth deterioration. In fact, many scientists and dental health professionals believe that a spike in tooth and mouth issues over the last few decades is the result of people not drinking city water – opting for filtered or bottled water, instead.
So, if your family uses a well for their water supply or if you only use filtered water, brushing with fluoride toothpaste is not only recommended – it’s crucial. Some dental professionals would go so far as to say you should add fluoride to your waterline if your children AREN’T consuming small levels of fluoride.
I promise you-you don’t want to be a parent with a 9-year-old who has to deal with severe dental issues because you were too scared that fluoride might be poisonous. I have a few friends who are suffering from the repercussions of using “all natural” toothpaste when their kids were small. It’s painful for your children and it’s painful for your wallet.
*As of 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency proposed changes in the recommended amounts of fluoride in public water supplies to levels to 0.7 milligrams per liter.