Is Fluoride safe for my kids?

Maria Ambra, RDH

Is Fluoride safe for my kids?

Parents are often concerned and refuse fluoride applications for their children during their dentist appointment, thinking that fluoride may be toxic or be harmful.

Fluoride is a natural substance found in water that has an important role in the prevention of tooth decay; it can reverse early stages of decay and contribute to healthy tooth development.

Tooth decay is caused when bacteria, found in plaque, produces acids that dissolve the hard enamel surfaces of teeth. Cavities weaken teeth and can lead to pain, tooth loss, and even infection in the most severe cases.

Fluoride prevents tooth decay in two ways:

• When it is ingested it incorporates into the structure of developing teeth

• It protects when it comes in contact with the surface of the teeth.

Fluoride prevents the acids in our mouth from dissolving or demineralizing the enamel, which is the hard, shiny substance that protects teeth. Fluoride can often reminiralize teeth, can reverse low levels of tooth decay and prevent new cavities from forming.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

• more than 25% of 2- to 5-year-olds have one or more cavities

• half of kids 12 to 15 years old have one or more cavities

• tooth decay affects two thirds of 16- to 19-year-olds

For more than 60 years, water fluoridation has proved to be a safe and cost-effective way to reduce dental caries. Today, water fluoridation is estimated to reduce tooth decay by 20%-40%.As of 2012, CDC statistics show that more than 60% of the U.S. population receives fluoridated water through the taps in their homes.

Several organizations have questioned its safety and effectiveness; however, there has been little evidence to support these concerns.

The American Dental Association (ADA), the United States Public Health Service (USPHS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the World Health Organization (WHO), among many other national and international organizations, support community water fluoridation.  The CDC considered fluoridation of water as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

At what age and how much fluoride kids should have?

• Kids under the age of 6 months do not need fluoride supplements.

• Fluoride-containing toothpaste with the ADA’s seal of acceptance should be used.

• Kids ages 3 and up should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

• Kids under age 6 should never use fluoride-containing mouth rinses, however older kids at high risk for tooth decay may benefit from them.

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I have never had a cavity! Why?

Becky Larson, RDH

I am 34 years old and I have never had a cavity.  I have 4 siblings, none of whom as ever had a cavity either.  It wasn’t because we were lucky or because we cleaned our teeth really, really well.  In fact, I never flossed regularly until I was in dental hygiene school. I was an athlete in high school and college and I was constantly eating, creating the type of environment that caries (cavity) bacteria thrive in.  Combine that with just mediocre home-care and I should have had at least one cavity at some point. But I have never had a cavity! Why?

The answer is simple: fluoride.  My dad is a dentist and my mom is a dental hygienist so naturally, they were concerned with our teeth.  They started giving us fluoride tablets that we would ingest (like vitamins) before our permanent teeth started coming in.  The result was super strong, cavity resistant enamel and no cavities!

There are many views and opinions about fluoride.  In excess, fluoride can be harmful to teeth, but in correct amounts, it is extremely advantageous in preventing cavities.  Nowadays, fluoride tablets are not necessary as many areas contain fluoride in the drinking water. The benefits of fluoride in drinking water include:

  • Prevents tooth decay in all ages – Fluoride prevents at least 25% of tooth decay in children and adults
  • Saves money – It has been said that water fluoridation is the single-most cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay (the average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a water supply is less than the cost of one dental filling)
  • Fluoride is natural – Fluoride is naturally present in oceans and groundwater.  Water fluoridation includes adjusting fluoride amounts to recommended and safe levels, similar to fortifying foods and beverages with vitamins and minerals

Fluoride works by strengthening the enamel portion of the tooth and making it resistant to acidic bacteria and sugars in the mouth that can cause cavities.  It can sometimes reverse early signs of decay. As previously stated, fluoride is often found in drinking water. If you are like me and like to drink filtered water, you can get the benefits of fluoride in other ways, including using fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes, and getting regular fluoride varnish treatments at your dental or dental hygiene visits.  Many times, insurance will only cover fluoride treatments for children, however, everyone can benefit from regular fluoride treatments and they are usually inexpensive. Ask your dentist or hygienist how you can benefit from fluoride today!

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The Truth About Hookah

Lindsay Olsen, RDH BSDH

The Truth About Hookah

Myth: Hookah smoke is better for you than cigarette smoke and not addictive.

Reality: Hookah smoke of various fruity flavors, tastes and aromas can be even more harmful than cigarette tobacco smoke. Also, hookah smoke contains four times more nicotine (an addictive drug) than cigarette smoke. Some people can become addicted to nicotine after using any form of tobacco just a few times, this includes hookah.

Myth: Smoking hookah is less harmful than cigarettes because the smoke passes through water, which filters out the chemicals and other carcinogens.

Reality: When hookah passes through water at the base of a hookah pipe it cools the smoke, but does not filter any chemicals out of the smoke. This “cooling” process forces a hookah smoker to inhale twice as deeply as a cigarette smoker, which causes chemicals, cancer causing agents, and other harmful elements to penetrate deeper into the lungs. The charcoal that is uses in hookah pipes adds even more carbon monoxide to the higher levels that already exist in this type of tobacco.

Myth: Smoking hookah is fun, and I only do it socially with friends, its not like I do it every day.

Reality: The reality is 45-60 minutes of hookah smoking is the same as chain smoking 15 cigarettes. Even if you are only smoking hookah for an hour, twice a week, it can lead to nicotine addiction. Something also to consider, when you share the mouthpiece with others you are at risk of getting colds, viruses such as herpes simplex one (cold sores), oral bacterial infections and tuberculosis.

Need help quitting? Speak with your dental hygienist, dentist, or call

1-800-55-66-222, or visit

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Asotra, Kamlesh. Hooked on Hookah? What You Don’t Know Can Kill You. Burning Issues: Tobacco’s Hottest Topics. Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program Newsletter 7, no 3 (2005) 1-10.

 A Closer Look at Tooth Enamel

Lora Cook, RDH

 A Closer Look at Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel is one of the toughest structures of the human body: however, it still needs protecting.  What exacting is tooth enamel?  It is the outer layer of your tooth and the hardest substance in your body.  Enamel is translucent and can stain from the food, drinks, smoking and chewing tobacco. Enamel cannot be regrown by our bodies.  Once it is chipped cracked or eroded or worn away it cannot be replaced naturally.

Signs of enamel problems.

Darkening:  As enamel wears away this can cause the tooth to become darker. 

Sensitivity:  Your teeth may become hypersensitive to hot, cold, sweets or sour foods.

Notching:  There may be notching at the gum line

Cracks and chips:  Irregular or jagged tooth surfaces, also fracture lines can appear.

Protecting your enamel.

Custom night guard:

The power of our bite is incredible.  Out incisor can have 55 pounds of pressure or biting force, while our molars have 200 pounds of pressure.  Clenching and grinding your teeth during times of stress or at night while sleeping experts excess force and wear on your teeth. Over time you can literally grind away your enamel layer.  Ask your dentist about a custom night guard to protect your enamel for a lifetime.

MI Paste Plus:

This is not a tooth paste to brush your teeth with.  This is a paste to coat your teeth with in order to put minerals back into your enamel to help remineralize the enamel. MI Paste plus contains calcium, phosphate and 900ppm of fluoride.

 “MI Paste and MI Paste Plus contain RECALDENT™ (CPP-ACP); Casein Phosphopeptide (CPP) are natural occurring molecules which are able to release calcium and phosphate ions and stabilize Amorphous Calcium Phosphate (ACP)”

These minerals help to strengthen and remineralize the enamel.

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