One of the most successful public health efforts has been the optimization of the fluoride levels in municipal water supplies. Water fluoridation achieves a 50 to 60 per cent reduction in dental caries, is economical, is unquestionably safe, and is an ideal public health measure because conscious daily cooperation is not required. Many families, unfortunately, have suboptimally fluoridated water either because they are not served by a central water supply or because the community has not implemented this preventive measure. Although most dentists are aware of the need to supplement fluoride-deficient diets, few children visit the dentist before age three. Since ingestion of fluoride during those first few years of life may provide the greatest long-term benefit in preventing dental caries, the physician is the primary deliverer of this effective, simple preventive measure. The purpose of this article is to review the current concepts regarding the mode of action of fluoride; describe the metabolism of fluoride in the child; bring attention to recent changes in protocol for prescribing fluoride supplements; and describe intensive fluoride regimens for patients with special problems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health