Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

A stream of fluoridated water is being poured into a clear glass of water against a blue background
You may know that fluoride is a tooth-strengthening mineral, but is it safe for your children? Here, we’ll explain what fluoride is and how it affects your child’s oral health.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs in nature and is often added to community drinking water, toothpaste, and mouthwash to help fight tooth decay. Fluoride helps to prevent decay by strengthening and hardening tooth enamel during the remineralization period and preventing dissolution is the demineralization phase.

Why Is There Fluoride in Water?

In the 1930s, researchers determined that those who grew up drinking fluoridated water had significantly fewer cavities than those who did not have access to fluoridated drinking water. Today, many places in the United States add fluoride to their drinking water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserts: “Community water fluoridation is the most cost-effective way to deliver fluoride to people of all ages, education levels, and income levels who live in a community. Most water has some fluoride, but usually not enough to prevent cavities. Community water systems add just the right amount of fluoride to the local drinking water to prevent cavities…Because of its contribution to the large decline in cavities in the United States since the 1960s, CDC named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”

Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

Fluoride is very safe and its use in drinking water has been approved and lauded by virtually all dental, medical, and public health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dental Association, US Public Health Service, and the World Health Organization. Fluoride is natural and the amount that is put into the water to strengthen teeth adheres to the strict standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Moreover, we recommend having your child brush with a fluoridated toothpaste to gain even greater cavity-protection benefits.

What About Fluorosis?

Dental fluorosis is an uncommon cosmetic issue caused by exposure to excessive fluoride when the teeth are forming below the gums in kids younger than eight years old. Fluorosis does not affect the health of teeth and cannot occur after permanent teeth have erupted from the gums. To avoid fluorosis, supervise your child to make sure they spit out their fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash instead of swallowing it. Fortunately, less than 2% of people have anything more than mild fluorosis, which appears as small white spots or streaks on their teeth. Talk to us if you think your child is getting too much fluoride.

If you have any additional questions about fluoride and how it affects your child, contact our office!

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