Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

The question of whether or not fluoride toothpaste is safe for young children continues to be an issue that parents have been concerned about for a long time. The American Dental Association used to recommend parents wait until age 2 to start using fluoride toothpaste with their children. But, that recommendation changed in 2014, and the organization began saying that parents can use a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste as soon as their children’s teeth begin to show.

Why did the ADA change its mind after years of standing by another policy? And, is fluoride safe for children?

Background on fluoride  

Fluoride strengthens your tooth structure and is an effective way to prevent and even reverse early signs of tooth decay. The ADA changed its standard on brushing young children’s teeth with fluoride after research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began to show an increase in cavities among preschool-age children.

By introducing fluoride toothpaste into the equation earlier, the ADA hopes to reduce the number of cavities found in young children. The ADA does recommend having children spit out the toothpaste after it’s applied to their teeth to avoid developing fluorosis, a condition that results in a tooth’s enamel changing because of too much fluoride exposure. This is, of course, easier said than done when dealing with a small child, but starting early and reinforcing habits like this will help prevent more serious problems from developing down the road.

What’s best for your child?

If you’re still unsure about whether or not fluoride is safe for your kids, the key is finding the right balance between getting your child enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay and using too much so that it puts them at risk for other issues.

Before you decide whether you’re going to start introducing fluoride toothpaste, make sure you understand how much fluoride your child is already taking in on a daily basis. Is it in your home’s tap water? If you don’t know, we strongly recommend that you do a water test or call your local water company to help you find out. This is even more imperative if this is what your family uses for drinking. You might be surprised to know that nearly all cities in the United States add fluoride to the water. In fact, fluoride is commonly found in the groundwater here in Colorado—sometimes in excess of what we recommend—which is why testing of your well water is so crucial. Also, take your child’s diet into consideration. If they drink soda or eat a lot of sugary snacks, a little extra fluoride could help combat the effects of sugar on their young teeth.

If you’re in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you may have about it. We’ll be more than happy to examine your child’s teeth and set forth a personalized plan for you and your child.

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