National Children’s Dental Health Month: Choose fluoride over flavor

Maj. S.Thikkurissy
435th Dental Squadron chief pediatric dentistry

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of four articles and commentaries in celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month

The other day, as I approached the toothpaste aisle in the commissary, my heart began to race, and my mouth became dry. As a dentist, this is an expected response, for my ears do perk up when someone mentions “floss” and I have been known to try to work the word “tartar” into a conversation, which really only works at Friday fish and chips day.

However, my reaction was a sign of dread, yes, I dread the toothpaste aisle, but it’s true because these days the designer ingredients read more like a list from a cooking show than anti-cavity superglue.

Cinnamon, vanilla, gingko-biloba, parsely, pepperoni, curry spice − what’s that? Ah yes, get your teeth sparkly white with the designer aroma of the Himalaya #57 Chicken saag. All very tasty, but one vital thing missing: fluoride.

When we eat, our mouth is basically a bucket of acid, that left unchecked will slowly dissolve our teeth. Fluoride is an elemental ion that helps teeth resist that daily breakdown. Best when applied topically to our teeth, with high frequency and low dosing, fluoride incorporates itself into the very structure of our teeth, making them more resistant to dissolution.

According to Centers for Disease Control studies, one of the greatest American public health victories has been water fluoridation; a key to reduced cavity rates throughout the country over the past 50 years.

In Germany, the water off base is not fluoridated. Members of the KMC are subject to other sources of fluoridation such as water on base (including the commissary, base exchange and child development center), as well as infant formula. Bottled water (unless specifically stated) does not contain fluoride. For a child living off base, drinking only tap water, and attending an off base daycare provider, lack of fluoride beginning as early as six months may affect their dental development and cavity risk.

Parents need to speak to their dentist to ensure an ***image1***appropriate individualized fluoride regimen based on American Dental Association recommendations developed for their children. Parents of children under 2 years of age should only use fluoridated toothpaste under the guidance of a dentist. The 435th Dental Squadron recommendation is that members of the KMC use toothpaste with an ADA seal of approval, as these have been tested and clinical effects have been established. Please contact the 435th Dental Squadron at 479-2210, or e-mail