Fluoride and Your Child

In order for your child to have healthy teeth, they have to learn the importance of brushing and flossing their teeth every day. If your child is older than 6 months, they also need fluoride to prevent tooth decay. When your child eats or drinks something, the bacteria in their mouth combines with the sugars. This produces an acid that can damage the enamel around their teeth and cause cavities. Fluoride’s job is to protect their teeth against this acid and the cavities that it can cause.

Fluoride in water

Fluoride is present in most of the world’s natural water sources. Some communities add more fluoride to the water to improve the public’s dental health. This water may be a sufficient source of fluoride for your child.

Ask a dentist in your area if there are sufficient fluoride levels in the public water supply to keep your child’s teeth healthy. If fluoride levels are insufficient or if your child mainly drinks water from a well or bottles, ask your dentist to prescribe a fluoride supplement. You can also use a toothpaste containing fluoride that has been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Overexposure

In the case of fluoride, you can get too much of a good thing! Up to the age of 8 years, your child’s teeth are still developing. Too much fluoride during this period can lead to mild enamel fluorosis or discoloration of the permanent teeth. Fluoride poisoning can happen when your child swallowed a large amount of fluoride. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. This can last for up to 24 hours, and when this happens, you should take your child to the emergency room.

When you have any questions or concerns about fluoride levels in your area’s water supply and your child’s fluoride intake at a specific age, it is always a good idea to consult with your dentist.