When is Fluoride Safe for My Child?

There is so much conflicting information out there about fluoride use with children. Some publications and experts say fluoride is completely safe for children while others say that fluoride should be avoided at all costs. As a parent, all this conflicting information can make it difficult for you to determine what is best for your child.
In an effort to help parents feel confident that they are making the right decision about fluoride, we have created an easy-to-understand, yet detailed guide to fluoride use. It is our hope that parents will use this guide to make an informed decision regarding how and when fluoride is used with their children.
Why is Fluoride Important?
Fluoride works as a strengthening agent for your teeth. When you consume safe amounts of fluoride, your teeth get stronger. The stronger your teeth are the harder they can fight against the acids that cause extreme tooth decay and cavities.
In addition to helping strengthen teeth, fluoride also has been proven to reverse early signs of tooth decay. Minor cases of tooth decay have been reversed because the fluoride strengthened the enamel of the teeth which resulted in the teeth re-calcifying. When the enamel re-calcified, it reversed the early signs of tooth decay.
Why are Some People Concerned About Fluoride Use?
People are concerned about the use of fluoride because they believe it has been linked to a number of health concerns. People are concerned that everything from cancer to neurological disorders can be caused by fluoride especially if the fluoride has been ingested.
There is also a concern about a condition known as fluorosis. Fluorosis occurs when the teeth in your mouth have been exposed to too much fluoride. It typically occurs in children between the ages of six and eight. Fluorosis causes teeth to appear discolored. It is a cosmetic issue and doesn’t have any known side effects.
Is Fluoride Safe to Consume?
Yes, fluoride is completely safe to consume. There are a number of safe and approved ways your child can get the right amount of fluoride.
Some common ways to get your child the fluoride their teeth need to stay strong include:

  • Drinking fluoride enhanced water – this can be in the form of bottled water or tap water if your city/community adds fluoride to their water
  • Foods – some foods contain natural fluoride
  • Dental products such as toothpaste and mouthwash that have additional fluoride
  • Fluoride treatments administered by your child’s dentist

If your child isn’t getting enough fluoride through their diet or the water they drink, you may be able to get a prescription for fluoride tablets. This is only given in extreme cases where fluoride is not readily available in the water supply. For the most part, children get the right amount of fluoride just by eating a balanced diet and drinking water on a regular basis.
How to Avoid Overexposure to Fluoride
If you are concerned about your child being exposed to too much fluoride, there are a few things you can do. Some ways to help your child avoid overexposure to fluoride include:

  • Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste they use. Swallowing the toothpaste won’t cause any severe problems, but if overexposure to fluoride is a concern this will help reduce your child’s exposure.
  • Pay attention to what foods and drinks contain fluoride. If your child consumes a lot of water, you may want to limit the foods and drinks that contain fluoride.
  • Use non-fluoride bottled water if your child consumes a lot of tap water. This limits the amount of ingested fluoride.

Wondering if your child is getting enough fluoride? Schedule an appointment for a routine dental examination at The Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida. Our dentists will examine your child’s teeth and determine if your child is getting enough fluoride. If your child isn’t getting enough fluoride, we can provide you with recommendations on how to safely improve fluoride consumption and even perform a fluoride treatment right in our office. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for your child!