For most people, February means chocolates and roses. For a pediatric dentist, February is special because it is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). This month is a time we dedicate to educating families about pediatric dental hygiene. This year, the NCDHM slogan is “Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap!”
2020 marks the 75th anniversary of community water fluoridation in the United States. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first city in the world to intentionally fortify its drinking water with fluoride. Scientists spent the next 15 years keeping a very close eye on the development and oral health of tens of thousands of school-aged children.
The results were astounding. Dental caries among Grand Rapids children dropped by more than 60 percent. The discovery of fluoride benefits is often hailed as one of the greatest achievements in health science, as it meant that we now had a way to prevent one of the most common ailments that we face.
Seventy years of research has proven that fluoride prevents cavities. There is simply no other ingredient with this kind of track record. Dentists have been recommending fluoridated toothpaste for decades because it’s the most effective way of delivering fluoride and protecting teeth.
You can read more about the history of fluoride here.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps build your bones and teeth. In our environment, it’s commonly found all around us in plants, water, and in the soil.
When the bacteria in your mouth break down sugars, they produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel. This demineralization leaves teeth more susceptible to cavity-causing bacteria. Fluoride rebuilds weakened tooth enamel and prevents decay.
Our community tap water is fluoridated at recommended levels, but regulations for bottled water do not require disclosure of fluoride content, but some studies have shown that most have far below the recommended amount of this cavity fighter. That’s why we recommend getting your drinking water right from the tap. It’s purified and fortified with fluoride!
Always Choose Fluoride Toothpaste
As your experts in children’s dentistry, we’re here to tell you that your choice of toothpaste matters. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to tell if you’ve got a toothpaste that will protect your children’s teeth or one that will just have them going through the motions.
Look for the ADA Seal
Even brushing and flossing every day won’t be enough to prevent cavities if the toothpaste is fluoride-free. If the product has a seal from the ADA (American Dental Association), that means the product has been tested and deemed safe and effective. It’s important to note that toothpaste products won’t be granted an ADA Seal of Acceptance if they don’t contain fluoride.
Dr. Duffy is Coming to a School Near You
For us, children’s dental health is serious business! That’s why our team will be visiting schools in our community to help the kids brush up on their dental hygiene. We’ll be starting next week with Old Settlers Elementary and working our way to Liberty Elementary, Children’s Courtyard, First Baptist Church Preschool, and Wellington Elementary by the end of the month.
5 Tips for Parents
- Schedule an appointment for a checkup and cleaning.
- Buy new toothbrushes.
- Do a brushing checkup for kids that usually brush alone.
- Help kids understand plaque with these colorful tablets.
- Color one of the educational charts below with your child.