The CDC and the ADA recommend that frequent exposure to small amounts of fluoride every day is the best for reducing the risk of dental cavities for all ages.
For most people, this means drinking tap water with optimal fluoride levels and brushing teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. For children and adults who may be at a higher risk of cavities, fluoride treatments can provide extra benefits.
Dental cavities are the most common chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend fluoride treatment for all children as soon as their teeth begin to grow to prevent decay, pain, and future dental infections.
Dentists or doctors should repeat fluoride treatment every 3–6 months, depending on a child’s risk of cavities.
To reduce the risk of overexposure to fluoride, dentists also recommend the following:
- Caregivers should brush children’s teeth with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste to reduce decay and minimize fluorosis risk. For children under 3 years of age, use no more than a smear or rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. For children aged 3–6, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Always supervise a child’s brushing to ensure they use the right amount of toothpaste, and try to get them to spit out most it if they can.
- Children under 6 years old should not use at-home fluoride rinses, such as mouthwash, since they may swallow too much fluoride.
Fluoride recommendations for adults vary. Different studies have investigated a range of concentrations, doses, and frequencies of treatment.
If a person is at a moderate-to-high risk of developing tooth decay, professional fluoride treatment can help. Experts recommend that people at high risk of cavities get professional fluoride treatments twice a year.
People should discuss the risks and benefits of fluoride treatment with their dentists. It is essential to consider all sources of fluoride, including fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash.
People who live in areas where the water does not contain fluoride may gain more significant benefits from regular fluoride treatments.
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