Flouride and Your Child

Flouride and Your Child

You might not know this, but fluoride is everywhere. Fluoride is naturally occurring in soil, rivers, lakes, and other natural water sources. Fluoride is found in some fast foods, and traces of it float through the air. While fluoride is great at protecting teeth, it’s important to be careful when giving it to small children. 

Taking care of tiny teeth is one of our specialties at My Kidz Dentist, where our team of experienced and compassionate providers give you the necessary knowhow on caring for your young child’s teeth. When it comes to fluoride and your child’s teeth, it’s important to know when it’s time to use fluoride, and how much. 

Can I give my child fluoride?

With approximately 60% of children ages 12-19 experiencing at least one cavity, it’s important to give fluoride to children. There is some debate about how much fluoride should be given to children under 6, but here are some guidelines for children, and other ways to care for young teeth:

Babies

Until their teeth come in, babies’ oral care is simple. After feeding, use a damp, soft cloth to gently wipe your baby’s mouth clean.  This method usually only lasts 6 to 12 months, by year one, your baby should have their first teeth. It is possible to use a minute amount of fluoride on a baby’s gums. Tip their head forward to allow excess toothpaste to dribble from their mouths. 

You can also use a fluoride treatment on a baby’s gums. This is usually called a fluoride varnish, and you place a thin layer directly on a baby’s gums. The varnish sets with the baby's saliva, and gives another layer of protection to the sensitive young gums. Fluoride rinses are not recommended for young children, as it tends to be too much fluoride for their teeth. 

1 year

By the time your baby is one, you should be using a fluoridated toothpaste on a soft-bristled brush. Children this young don’t need more than a tiny streak of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. 

3 years

When your child turns three, things change. They can spit, and you can increase their toothpaste portion from a streak to a pea-sized amount. Make sure they continue to use fluoridated toothpaste, and brush gently.  

6 years

Up to 6 years, children’s teeth are sensitive to fluoride, and can have too much fluoride in their diets. Too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis in children. Fluorosis only appears in young children through age 8. The condition isn’t usually serious, and appears as white patches on the teeth.    

What if my child swallows toothpaste?

Children’s toothpaste typically has less fluoride than toothpastes made for adults. With children, it’s important to give the smallest amount of toothpaste possible in order to minimize swallowing. With infants, it’s okay if tiny amounts of their fluoridated toothpaste ends up in their tummies, but too much can cause gastrointestinal irritation. If this happens, give your child milk to drink. 

Occasionally, children will swallow large amounts of toothpaste. This can put them at risk for the afore-mentioned dental fluorosis. Besides white patches, fluorosis can also be brown, and streaky on a child’s teeth. 

What about fluoride in the water?

Fluoride in most local water supplies is safe for young children. Fluoride is added to our water supply to help strengthen our teeth. Oral induction of fluoride is an easy way to keep teeth healthier for a large number of people. Your local water department can inform you of the fluoride levels in the water in your area. 

Other sources of fluoride are unlikely to harm your child — even the amounts found in large, natural bodies of water, or in fluoride-rich soil. Choosing a great dental provider, though, can help you get your child on the path to good dental hygiene. Call My Kidz Dentist at any of our three locations, or book an appointment with us online.

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