Is Fluoride Bad for Toddlers? The Truth is Out There
Is fluoride bad for toddlers? We receive a lot of questions in our practice from our patients, and the subject of fluoride and toddlers is one we hear often.
A few years back the American Dental Association (ADA) changed their guidelines and inadvertently caused some confusion among parent about the safety of fluoride with their young children.
Previously, the ADA recommended waiting until age 2 to start using fluoride toothpaste. It wasn’t until 2014 that the ADA changed their recommendation to use a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste as soon as parents see emerging teeth.
So what caused the ADA to change their fluoride guidelines? And what does this change mean for your children?
Is Fluoride Bad for Toddlers? A Bit of Background
Fluoride has proven itself to be an extremely efficient way to prevent tooth decay. It makes teeth stronger and more resistant to frequent acid attacks.
While most of us get our daily supply of fluoride through our water, there are sections of the country that have opted not to use fluoride in their water supply. Also, many families are opting for bottled water, which doesn’t contain fluoride.
For many years, the ADA has recommended seeing a dentist and instilling the brushing habit by a child’s first birthday. Still, the word has not got out to many parents, and even those who do know the recommendations might give in to their toddler’s teeth brushing tantrums.
New Research on Fluoride
The change at the ADA aligned its guidelines with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, which has recommended using fluoride toothpaste at the first sign of teeth for decades.
The change at the ADA was made after research came in identifying a troubling cavity trend among preschool-age children. The study, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, illustrated how children were being placed under general anesthesia to have cavities filled in multiple teeth.
The goal of introducing fluoride earlier is to help prevent childhood cavities. The ADA also recommends that children always spit out their toothpaste after brushing to avoid developing fluorosis, where too much fluoride changes the color of the enamel. Remember – starting early and promoting good hygiene habits will preserve their smiles for a lifetime.
In other recent studies, the ingestion of large amounts of fluoride has been linked to ADHD. While swallowing toothpaste once in a while is relatively harmless, swallowing toothpaste all the time can lead to more serious issues down the road.
So – What’s Best for Your Child?
Maybe you are still on the fence about your toddler and fluoride? Sure, it’s true that baby teeth do eventually come out – but they can last years before coming out. And remember, the pain from cavities are often mistaken for teething. Always take your children to their dentist if they complain about teeth pain.
When it comes to determining ‘is fluoride bad for toddlers’, the trick is to maintain a balance. You want to ensure your child reaps the benefits of fluoride and escapes the risks of overuse. Before you decide on using a fluoride toothpaste, you should understand how much fluoride your child is already receiving. Is it mixed with your drinking water? If you are unsure, a quick phone call to your local water authority should clear it up.
Your child’s diet is also essential. Does your child ingest a lot of sugary snacks or soda? If so, a bit of extra fluoride might be in order.
If you still have questions, bring your questions to your next visit. We can examine your child’s teeth and take into account environmental factors to determine your best course of action with your toddler and fluoride.