Fluoride, a natural mineral found abundantly on Earth, is essential for the development of strong, healthy teeth. However, too much fluoride can also be harmful. Learn about the following sources of fluoride to find out if your child is consuming too much fluoride — or too little:
All adult toothpastes that have been approved by the Australian Dental Association contain fluoride. According to dentists, brushing with a fluoride-containing toothpaste is the best way to reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay.
As young children have a habit of swallowing toothpaste instead of spitting it out, adult toothpastes with high levels of fluoride are not appropriate. Children who regularly use and swallow adult toothpaste can end up with fluorosis, a condition in which brown spots appear on the teeth. Dentists recommend that young children use a low-fluoride toothpaste, which can offer protection against tooth decay while protecting children from the risks of over-consuming fluoride.
Most major cities in Australia add fluoride to the drinking water. This fluoridation is nothing to be afraid of; in fact, it could help to protect your children from cavities. The amount of fluoride in drinking water is very low, so there is little risk of kids developing fluorosis even if they drink huge amounts of tap water.
As water is one of the most tooth-friendly drinks available, you should encourage your children to drink tap water instead of cola or other soft drinks. In general, tap water in Australia is a healthier choice than bottled water because of the fluoride and other minerals that it contains. Other tooth-friendly drinks for kids include cow's milk and unsweetened plant milks that have been fortified with calcium.
Fluoride tablets are unnecessary for most kids, and could even be dangerous if your child already has exposure to fluoride in their drinking water and dental products. However, in some rural areas where the water supply does not contain fluoride, these tablets can be useful for preventing tooth decay.
Always consult a children's dentist before giving them fluoride tablets. The dentist can examine your child's teeth, find out how much fluoride they already come into contact with during their daily routines, and recommend an appropriate dosage of fluoride for your child to take in tablet or liquid form. Always be sure to keep these products out of reach of your kids so they cannot accidentally overdose on fluoride.
For more information, contact a children's dentistry clinic in your area.