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Stephen Fox D.M.D. | Member American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry


Fluoride not only helps prevent tooth decay, but can also cure pre-cavities in their early stages. Water fluoridation is still the number #1 way to prevent tooth decay. Children who drink well water should have the appropriate fluoride supplement. These fluorides strengthen the permanent teeth as they are forming. Fluorides to strengthen the teeth already erupted include fluoride treatments by your dentist, toothpaste, and rinses or gels.

What is Fluoride?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry explains “It is a naturally occurring element that helps prevent tooth decay when swallowed during the ages of tooth development (birth through adolescence) and when applied to the surface after tooth eruption.”

Fluoride is beneficial in several ways, such as:

  • Aids in the formation of tooth enamel.
  • Makes tooth enamel stronger.
  • Repairs early stages of tooth decay.
  • Prevents decalcification (white scars) of teeth.

Forms of Fluoride

Fluoride can be obtained topically or systemically. Parents should look at their child’s total fluoride intake from both forms to make sure their child is receiving the appropriate amount of fluoride.

Mouth Rinses

Prescription or over-the-counter mouth rinses are available. These rinses are not for children under 6 because of the risk of swallowing the rinse and ingesting too much fluoride.

What is Fluorosis?

A chalky white to even brown discoloration of the permanent teeth. Excessive fluoride ingestion by preschool-aged children can lead to dental fluorosis. Some of the sources: too much fluoridated toothpaste at an early age, the inappropriate use of fluoride supplements, hidden sources of fluoride in the child’s diet.

Tips To Ensure Your Child is Not At Risk for Ingesting Too Much Fluoride

  • For infants, 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 only be given to children after all of the sources of ingested fluoride have been accounted for and upon the recommendation of your pediatric dentist or pediatrician.
  • 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.
  • If supplements are being used, keep them out of children’s reach. Avoid stocking up to minimize the risk of ingesting too much.
  • Keep fluoridated toothpaste out of reach. You do not want your child to be tempted to eat it.
  • Place only a pea-sized drop of children’s toothpaste on the brush until the child learns to spit after brushing.