Photo courtesy of Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral and with the right dosing, fluoride is an excellent and safe way to strengthen your child’s teeth and decrease his/her chances of getting a cavity.
Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease.
2000 US Report of Health Services
28% of children between the ages of 2-5 have decay
78% of kids by age 17 have decay
Communities that are fluoridated show a 50% decrease in cavity rates.
There are 2 ways fluoride can be used. Fluoride can be ingested through fluoridated tap water or fluoride supplements. This type of “internal” fluoride supplementation will increase the strength of the enamel of the developing permanent teeth. You can also use fluoride topically by placing fluoride toothpaste or gels directly on to the existing teeth in your child’s mouth. In summary, topical fluoride helps decrease cavities in existing teeth, and ingesting fluoride internally will help make a child’s developing permanent teeth stronger. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Public Health Department, and the American Dental Association all recommend that children ages 1 to 16 years old receive fluoride either in the water that they drink or as a supplement.
Today, most municipal water supplies are fortified with fluoride. The water supply for Orange County is made up of water from the Metropolitan District of Southern California and contains an average fluoride level of 0.6 parts per million. If the local water supply has a fluoride content of more than 0.3 parts per million then your child does not need a supplement in the form of drops or tablets. You can get information about how much fluoride your tap water contains by contacting your local water department, or by purchasing a test kit.
Although fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, it is important that children get the right amount of fluoride, as too much over time can lead to fluorosis, a condition that causes white spots to appear on your child’s adult teeth. While most cases of fluorosis are mild, severe cases can cause a brownish mottling on the teeth and weaken tooth enamel. But these cases are mostly caused by over consumption of fluoride through swallowing of toothpaste or fluoride supplements, not through drinking city water. To avoid this, do not use toothpaste or mouthwash that contain fluoride until your child learns how to properly spit out which generally is not till the age of 3 or 4 years old . We recommend when using a fluoride toothpaste, use only a rice-sized amount for children under the age of 3.
Speak with your child’s pediatric dentist to determine the right amount of fluoride for your child.
For more information, please visit us at childrensdentistry.com.
Source: “Fluoride Supplements” by Anonymous. May 20, 2011. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-infants-toddlers/fluoride-supplements
Source: “Brush up on Healthy Teeth.” http://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/pdfs/BrushUpTips.pdf
Source: “Toothcare for Children” by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board. September 2011. http://www.babycenter.com/0_tooth-care-for-children_11282.bc