By Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer on Mar 09 2018
As a parent, you’re constantly thinking about the health and safety of your children. You worry about skinned knees, sugary diets, and bullies at school. You’ve spent a considerable amount of time teaching your kids the importance of taking care of their teeth. And you’re proud to say it’s caught on—these kids are looking after their teeth!
Now your attention has turned away from the basics to the more advanced questions. Is fluoride good for my children? How soon should a person start using fluoride toothpaste? It’s put into the water, so is that enough to protect my child, or do I need to ensure they’re getting a higher quantity from another source?
These are all valid concerns, so to alleviate your worry, here is everything you should know about fluoride toothpaste and whether or not your children should use it.
What Is Fluoride?
At its most basic, fluoride is a mineral that’s found in soil, water, and various foods. What we’ve learned is that fluoride has a very positive effect on teeth and overall oral health. Fluoride will help make your children’s teeth more resistant to decay; in some situations, it can also reverse tooth decay that has already started.
The best part of fluoride is that it is completely natural. Regardless of whether fluoride was added to your drinking supply, trace amounts are always found in water. The added amounts are closely governed by standards set by the government to ensure the safety of communities. All around, it’s a natural element we’re lucky has such positive effects on our oral health.
For many communities in Canada, fluoride is added directly to public drinking water. This way, the entire community is protected with a regular influx of fluoride simply by drinking water.
Fluoride is also available in toothpastes and rinses, and dentists have access to professional fluoride products like gels and varnishes. When in doubt, ask your pediatric dentist what options are best for your family and how best to introduce them into your regular routines.
Water vs. Toothpaste
“If fluoride is in my water, why should I bother with toothpaste?”
That’s a great question and it has a simple answer. Even though it’s likely in your water, there are many factors that can reduce its effectiveness. For example, if you use a filter on your water at home, double check with the manufacturer to make sure the filter isn’t also removing fluoride.
By including fluoride toothpaste in your children’s regular oral hygiene routine, you ensure your family is getting the necessary fluoride on a regular basis.
Should My Kids Use Fluoride Toothpaste?
In short: yes! The longer answer is “yes,” with some caveats depending on their ages. For children under the age of three, fluoridated toothpaste use is dependent on their risk of tooth decay. Higher risks mean you should use fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to talk to your pediatric dentist who will be able to tell you if your infant is at higher risk for tooth decay.
The younger/smaller your child, the less fluoride toothpaste you should use (a dollop the size of a grain of rice for kids under three and a dollop no larger than a pea for kids up to six).
When in doubt about fluoride or any part of your oral hygiene routine, always speak to your dentist. Your child’s pediatric dentist is your ally when it comes to learning and teaching your kids about dental health, and they’ll be happy to provide you with all the answers you need.