Fluoride – How Much Do Kids Need?

fluorideFluoride is a naturally occurring element that is found in the Earth’s crust, as well as bodies of water all over the world. For the past few decades fluoride has been proven to prevent and reverse the beginning stages of tooth decay. When used in the right amounts it is an effective tool that makes tooth enamel more resistant to decay.

Fluoride that is added to community drinking water or dietary fluoride supplements are both examples of systemic fluoride, or fluoride that we ingest. Topical fluorides include things like toothpaste, mouthwashes, or foams/gels that are applied directly to the enamel surface of the teeth. For fluoride to be an effective treatment against tooth decay both systemic and topical applications need to be combined.

Fluoride is like any other vitamin or mineral supplement that people take; it’s beneficial in the appropriate amounts, but can be harmful if you’re exposed to a high concentration of it. Take children’s vitamins for example; if they take the recommended dosage they reap the benefits, but if they eat the whole bottle there can be toxic, and sometimes even deadly, side-effects.

Enamel fluorosis, a condition that causes discoloration and spots on permanent teeth, is the biggest negative side effect of overexposure to fluoride. Most cases of fluoride overexposure are due to the misuse of topical fluoride products, like toothpaste and fluoride rinse. This is why it’s important to consult a pediatric dentist on the amount of fluoride that’s right for your child.

So how much fluoride does your child need?

The amount of fluoride each child needs is dependent upon the age of the child, the amount of fluoride intake the child already has and your child’s tooth decay risk level. You will want to consult you pediatric dentist to assess the recommended amount of fluoride for your particular child.

Here is a generalized idea of how much fluoride your child needs:

If you DO have fluoridated water:

  • Children under the age of two should not need fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Children over the age of two should use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste that has been approved by their dentist or has the ADA seal of approval on it.
  • Your child’s dentist may recommend additional Fluoride treatments if needed during routine dental visits.

If you DO NOT have fluoridated water:

  • Children under the age of two can use a tiny, rice-sized drop of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Children over the age of two should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste that has been approved by their dentist or has the ADA seal of approval on it.
  • Your child’s dentist may recommend additional Fluoride treatments if needed during routine dental visits.

Want to find out if your water is fluoridated? Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website; on the interactive map choose your state, county and then locate your water company on the list.

A pediatric dentist can help you understand more about fluoride and your child’s specific oral health needs. Visit our website or contact our office to schedule an appointment for your child today.

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