Fluoride is an extremely important component of good oral health. Studies consistently show that a moderate but consistent exposure of teeth to fluoride helps strengthen and rebuild tooth structure, and helps prevent future decay by 50-70%.
It is important to note, however, that like any medical treatment, fluoride should be taken in moderation. Overexposure to fluoride can result in a cosmetic condition known as fluorosis: thin white lines, streaks or spots on the tooth enamel that usually darken later. The risk of fluorosis is most pronounced in infants and children whose teeth have not yet fully developed and erupted from the gum line, which is why extra care must be taken to monitor how much fluoride a child ingests. Many, if not most, public water sources contain fluoridated water, and a common cause of fluorosis in children is powdered infant formula prepared with fluoridated water.
Studies have shown that many wells in Massachusetts have naturally-occurring fluoride. We offer parents who have wells a fluoride test kit which is sent to a laboratory so the amount of fluoridation in your tap water can be measured. If a fluoride supplement is needed, we can then give you a prescription for the needed amount.
There are also many kinds of toothpaste, mouthwashes and even some flosses that contain fluoride. For more on fluoride and fluoridation, you can visit the ADA’s website on fluoride and the CDC’s website on infant formula preparation.