Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in or added to water that helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening teeth. Years of large-scale studies have found it to be safe and effective.
The only caution regarding fluoride supplementation is for infants and toddlers.
Just the right amount of fluoride helps teeth, but too much can cause “fluorosis,” a condition in which white or brown spots form on the teeth and the enamel weakens.
Most children ingest the appropriate amount of fluoride by drinking fluoridated tap water or having it mixed with their formula or cereal.
However, a rise in early childhood tooth decay has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend using a small, safe amount of fluoride toothpaste (a “smear” or “rice-sized” amount) when brushing the teeth of children under age 3 and a “pea-sized” amount for children ages 3-6.
The use of fluoride for both the prevention and control of cavities has been proven safe and effective. Children who are not exposed to fluoridated water may need to be monitored to make sure their diet contains enough fluoride. Talk with your child’s dentist about this if you live in an area without fluoridated tap water.
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