When you’re being treated with an orthodontic appliance like braces, your teeth will become more susceptible than usual to plaque. This is why your orthodontist will recommend fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash as part of your daily routine when caring for your teeth. Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel on your teeth and makes them more likely to resist the problems that can lead to cavities.
How Fluoride Works
Fluoride is a mineral that appears naturally in a small number of foods. The amount of fluoride that a person can get from their diet, however, is less than what is needed to prevent tooth decay. The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements publishes a Fact Sheet that explains the optimal amounts of fluoride a person should be getting for their age.
The bacteria in a person’s mouth and on their teeth is what ultimately leads to cavities. When leftover food sticks to your teeth, especially from sugary foods and drinks, these bacteria love to feed on it. The bacteria then emits an acid that eats away at the enamel and weakens it. If the bacteria are left to run wild, they eventually cause tooth decay.
When the tooth enamel encounters fluoride, it actually counters the damage caused by bacteria, and strengthens the enamel. This is a process known as remineralization.
Benefits Of Fluoride
Fluoride has been added to community water supplies in the US and many other countries for more than 70 years now. Studies have shown that children who live in areas without fluoridated water are up to three times as likely to eventually need dental surgery of some kind. Fluoride in water is also estimated to prevent up to 25 percent more cavities in people from all age groups.
How Much Fluoride Toothpaste To Use By Age
Fluoride toothpaste helps to bolster the amount of enamel protection that is supplied by local water supplies. Parents can start using it as soon as their child’s first baby teeth start coming in during infancy. Here are the guidelines for how much should be used during every stage of life.
0 to 3 Years: Use a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste — approximately the size of a grain of rice — to brush your baby’s teeth. Use a soft-bristled brush, and be extra gentle.
3 to 6 Years: This is when kids first begin learning to brush on their own. Use an amount that is about the size of a single pea. Kids should brush at least twice daily, so morning and nighttime before bed work best for this. They should brush for two minutes each time. Parents should supervise their kids at this age, so they learn to spit the toothpaste out rather than swallowing it.
Older Kids, Teens and Adults: Once your child learns to brush their teeth on their own effectively, make sure they continue using fluoride toothpaste and brushing twice a day. This routine should continue through adulthood, with everyone brushing at least twice a day. This guideline especially applies during orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign. Using an orthodontic appliance makes it harder to get every area of every tooth brushed, and using fluoride toothpaste gives the enamel the extra strength it needs.
Using Fluoride Mouthwash
Mouthwash can help to give your teeth an extra fluoride rinse every day while undergoing treatment with braces. For children under 6, mouthwash is usually not recommended. They have difficulty spitting it out until they become older, and are more likely to swallow it. But for most older kids, teens, and adults, rinsing with fluoride mouthwash adds protection.
If you’re looking for an affordable orthodontist, we have Suntree, Viera and Rockledge orthodontic practices in Melbourne. Contact Us today to schedule an appointment and your first exam.
Let's Get Social