The truth about fluoride, mouthwash and the perfect toothbrush

Photo by Sura Nualpradid

As part of our Community Oral Health Initiatives, which is helping to improve the health of children and families in North Philadelphia, Judy Gelinas, director of Oral Health Initiatives housed at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, has shared three essential tips that will have everyone smiling.

Fluoride is important for kids.

As children’s teeth develop, fluoride helps create stronger enamel that’s more resistant to decay. Public water systems (like Philadelphia’s) often have fluoride added so that all children may receive the health benefits it offers. But water-based fluoride works differently than the fluoride gel or varnish a dentist may apply to a child’s teeth. The fluoride added to public water helps growing teeth (not yet erupted) develop strong enamel. The fluoride applied to teeth in the dental office helps teeth that are already grown remain strong and resistant to decay. The bottom line: Flouride ensures better oral health for both children and adolescents. So remember to drink plenty of water, brush and visit your dentist regularly.

Mouthwash can never replace brushing and flossing.

A lot of people use mouthwashes or rinses to freshen up and to help mask the odor associated with bad breath. And while these rinses may temporarily make your breath smell minty fresh, they do not really address the cause of the odor problem. And while some mouthwashes have antibacterial qualities that may help kill some germs in your mouth, they will not reach under the gums where a lot of the bad bacteria live. What’s the best way to eliminate odor-causing bacteria? Brush and floss daily.

Choose your toothbrush wisely.

A hard-bristled brush can do damage to your teeth. It may, over time, cause gums to recede, exposing the root, which could lead to uncomfortable tooth sensitivity. A tooth root that’s not protected by enamel is also much more susceptible to decay. With continued use of a hard brush, notches may be worn into the side of the teeth – causing further damage. It’s important to check your brush. If it’s harder than a soft-bristled brush, throw it out. It may be doing more harm than good.

Click here to find out more about the Oral Health Initiative and how you can access dental care from the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.