Should you give your child fluoride?

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Should you give your child fluoride?

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Fluoride protects teeth against cavities by strengthening enamel before the teeth appear and by remineralizing weakened enamel on teeth that have already broken through the gums. It is a naturally occurring substance found in water and some foods. Many public agencies (including the American Dental Association, the Center for Disease Control, the American Medical Association, the US Surgeon General and the World Health Organization) recommend adding fluoride to public drinking water to prevent tooth decay. Here in Philadelphia, PA fluoride is added to our water.

Fluoride can be supplemented either systemically (as a lozenge, chewable pill or drop) or topically (as found in toothpastes and mouthwashes). To protect teeth that haven’t yet appeared above the gum line, fluoride needs to be taken systemically. Unfortunately too much fluoride can result in dental fluorosis, a discoloration of the teeth that develops while they are still under the gums.

My Recommendations

  • Do not use fluoridated water to mix infant formula.
  • Use a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth twice a day. Discourage swallowing while brushing.
  • I do not recommend the use of fluoride supplements until the first permanent tooth has appeared and the risk of fluorosis has reduced.
  • If your child is at high risk for developing cavities (parents had many cavities or child has already had a cavity) or if your child doesn’t brush his/her teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, then consider a lozenge or chewable fluoride supplement.

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