Fluorides

Fluoride is an element, which is immensely beneficial to teeth. However, too little or excessive fluoride can be damaging to the teeth. Absence of fluoride in teeth can make them weak to fight cavities. Excessive fluoride ingestion by preschool-aged children can lead to dental fluorosis, which is a chalky white to even brown discolouration of the permanent teeth. Many children often get more fluoride than their parents realize. Being aware of a child’s potential sources of fluoride can help parents prevent the possibility of dental fluorosis.

Some of these sources are:

  • Too much fluoridated toothpaste at an early age.
  • Inappropriate use of fluoride supplements.
  • Hidden sources of fluoride in the child’s diet.

Two and three year olds may not be able to spit out fluoride-containing toothpaste when brushing. As a result, these youngsters may ingest an excessive amount of fluoride during tooth brushing. Toothpaste ingestion during this critical period of permanent tooth development is the greatest risk factor in the development of fluorosis. Excessive and inappropriate intake of fluoride supplements may also lead to fluorosis. Fluoride drops and tablets, as well as fluoride fortified vitamins should not be given to infants younger than six months of age. Fluoride supplements should be given to children only when all the other sources.

After that time, fluoride supplements should only be given to children after all of the sources of ingested fluoride have been accounted for and upon the recommendation of your paediatrician or paediatric dentist.

Certain foods contain high levels of fluoride, especially powdered concentrate infant formula, soy-based infant formula, infant dry cereals, creamed spinach, and infant chicken products. Please read the label or contact the manufacturer. Some beverages also contain high levels of fluoride, especially decaffeinated teas, white grape juices, and juice drinks manufactured in fluoridated cities. Parents can take the following steps to decrease the risk of fluorosis in their children’s teeth:

  • Use baby tooth cleanser on the toothbrush of the very young child.
  • Place only a pea sized drop of children’s toothpaste on the brush when brushing.
  • Account for all of the sources of ingested fluoride before requesting fluoride supplements from your child’s physician or paediatric dentist.
  • Avoid giving any fluoride-containing supplements to infants until they are at least 6 months old.
  • Obtain fluoride level test results for your drinking water before giving fluoride supplements to your child (check with local water utilities).