Have you heard that your child’s oral health can be negatively impacted if they ingest too much fluoride? If so, you may be confused as to why your pediatric dentist is recommending that your child brush with fluoride toothpaste and drink fluoridated water. Is fluoride safe for kids? Yes! Fluoride is completely safe and essential for protecting your child’s pearly whites from cavities, as long as they get the right amount of it. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping your little one’s precious smile safe with fluoride.
What Does Fluoride Do?
Did you know that human tooth enamel is the hardest material in the human body? Unfortunately, when it gets worn away by cavities or pressure, it doesn’t naturally grow back on its own. Thankfully, fluoride can help! This mineral can be absorbed by enamel, where it combines with the calcium and phosphate there to form fluorapatite. This material is even stronger than enamel, more resistant to cavities, and can even reverse some early signs of decay.
Fluoride is naturally found in most water sources, and most tap water systems are fortified with fluoride as well. This important mineral can also be found in toothpaste, fluoride supplements, and certain mouthwashes. When it’s introduced into the mouth, it lingers in the saliva. The saliva then washes over and coats the teeth throughout the day, allowing the fluoride to seep into the enamel throughout the day.
Fluoride for Kids: How Much Is Too Much?
While fluoride is naturally found in most water sources, this mineral has been so effective in preventing cavities that the US has been adding more of it to its tap water systems for decades. The CDC reports that the fluoridation of public water sources has reduced tooth decay by about 25% in both adults and children. However, if a child consumes too much fluoride, they could develop dental fluorosis. This cosmetic condition can occur in children under eight years old. If baby or permanent teeth are overexposed to fluoride as they develop, they may form small white spots or, in rare cases, tiny pits.
Extensive research has been conducted to determine how much fluoride is safe for children. Since the fluoride levels in tap water are highly regulated, experts report that fluoridated tap water is safe for children to drink alongside using the proper amount of fluoridated toothpaste:
- As soon as an infant’s teeth appear until the age of three, you should brush their teeth with a smear of fluoridated toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice.
- Children between three and six should brush with a pea-sized drop of fluoridated toothpaste under your supervision to ensure they spit it out.
- After the age of six, children can continue to brush with a pea-sized drop of toothpaste without supervision in most cases.
If your child accidentally swallows some toothpaste, there’s nothing to worry about. They may have an upset stomach, but no damage will be caused unless they regularly consume large amounts of toothpaste. All in all, using fluoride correctly is an easy and reliable way to dramatically reduce your child’s risk of cavities and tooth decay!
About the Practice
At Simply Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry of Fitchburg, we fully understand that growing smiles need special care and attention. That’s why we offer a wide range of oral health services that are specially designed to meet the unique oral healthcare needs of children, such as fluoride treatments. And since most of our staff members are parents themselves, we’ll be more than happy to walk you through the best ways to care for and monitor your little one’s smile at home as well. To learn more about fluoride, we can be contacted via our website or at (978) 424-4255.