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The Pros and Cons of Fluoride For Children’s Dental Health

Fluoride is one of the most well-known minerals because of its many health benefits for our teeth. It’s found in our toothpaste, mouthwashes, and local drinking water. Most of all, it’s reported to provide many benefits for children’s growing bodies, strengthening their teeth and stopping cavities from forming. However, with fluoride comes some disparity, and we’re here to provide basic information about what that means for your family and how you can protect your child’s teeth for life. 

Do Children Need Fluoride? 

Fluoride is found in rocks, soil, water, and air and is a natural mineral. Almost all water contains fluoride, but it wasn’t until studies back in the early 1900s that fluoride was discovered to help reduce brown staining on teeth. These studies helped reduce the high dental risks children faced during that time, and adding fluoride to community waters helped sprout secondary teeth without any signs of decay or staining. Over the next century, further studies helped conclude that fluoride helped prevent rotting tooth enamel, becoming a lasting achievement for children’s teeth today. 

These studies helped establish fluoride in today’s dental products and future treatments, and are often found in community waters, toothpaste, and mouth rinses. Overall, many dentists support the use of fluoride for children as it provides many benefits, including: 

  • Strengthening Enamel: Fluoride binds with the enamel’s molecular structure, strengthening the enamel over time and providing your child’s teeth and a clean, strong surface against bacteria.
  • Stops Bacteria Production: Because it works with the enamel, fluoride stops bacteria production by preventing the bacteria from forming layers outside the teeth. 
  • Reduces Tooth Decay: Its bacteria-halting abilities makes tooth decay significantly less prominent in young children, protecting the teeth from damage. 

But are there any downsides to fluoride? Sadly, yes. Too much fluoride in your child’s diet can contribute to dental fluorosis, a condition that causes off-white streaks in the name. However, according to the CDC, dental fluorosis doesn’t have a risk to tooth function and can make the teeth more resistant to tooth decay. It isn’t a disease – it’s a side effect of too much fluoride in your child’s diet and only causes subtle changes to your child’s teeth. 

Fluoride: A Good Supplement For Your Child’s Oral Health

If you’re looking to find better ways to manage your child’s dental health, balancing your child’s fluoride intake is the best way to do so. This means limiting their tap water intake if your community adds fluoride to their water supply, supervising their brushing habits, making sure they don’t swallow toothpaste, and avoiding them using mouth rinses when they’re under six years old. If they need more fluoride, your dentist can supply fluoride supplements, especially if you’re living in non-fluoridated areas. 

For more information about caring for your child’s teeth, brushing habits, and oral care routines, make sure to visit your local pediatric dentist for advice. By visiting your dentist, they can help you and your child gets the most out of their dental care.