Children and Fluoride
Fluoride is either applied topically to erupted teeth or ingested orally during teeth development. This prevents tooth decay, strengthens teeth enamel and reduces the harmful effect of plaque. It also makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization which aids in early decay before the damage is visibly seen.
Where is fluoride found ?
Topical fluoride : Topical fluoride is found in the following sources :
- Found in products containing mild ( available over the counter) or strong ( by prescription) concentrates of fluoride. Example is toothpastes or mouthrinses.
- Fluoridated vanishes and gels either applied topically by a dentist or other oral health care professionals. It can be also prescribed as an at-home regimen for children with a high risk of dental caries.
Systemic sources :This includes
- Public and private water supply
- Soft drinks
- As dietary supplement
- Some bottled water supplies
The systemic fluoride is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract once ingested and distributed and deposited throughout the body through the blood supply.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years take some form of fluoride everyday. If your child drinks bottled water, talk to your doctor about using a product that contains fluoride. Your pediatrician or dentist will determine if your child is not getting enough fluoride and prescribe fluoride supplements. The amount of fluoride prescribed is based on the child’s age and the amount of fluoride in drinking water.
What are the health risk associated with fluoride use ?
Fluoride consumption is safe in general. Health risk associated with fluoride are usually limited to misuse and over concentration. To avoid misuse and over concentration :
- Avoid drinking overly fluoridated water. This can cause the teeth to become discolored . It can also cause enamel and teeth to look spotted , spitted or stained.
- Avoid swallowing tooth paste and other dental hygiene products.
- Call the local water department and / or health department to evaluate the fluoride level in your local drinking reservoir.
Children are especially vulnerable to dental fluorosis . This is because their developing teeth is more sensitive to higher fluoride levels. Fluorosis only occurs in developing teeth not those that have already erupted. Consult your pediatrician or doctor if you see changes in your child’s teeth.
Fluoride and children. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/FAQ-Fluoride-and-Children.aspx? Accessed January 2nd, 2019
Fluoridation. American Dental Association. https://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and-fluoridation/fluoridation-faq. Accessed January 2nd, 2019