Is It Okay to Give Children Fluoride?
You might be asking yourself, “Is it okay to give children fluoride?” After all, countless dentists recommend exposing children to fluoride at a young age. They tout its supposed cavity-fighting benefits as risk free and without concern. What they are not telling you or what they may not know or understand is this: fluoride can often do more harm than good. Applying or ingesting too much fluoride actually hurts their teeth’s development, leading to a condition known as fluorosis. Worse, the recommended doses of fluoride do not take into account potential exposures from adding fluoride in water on top of fluoridated toothpastes and other medications with an undisclosed amount of fluoride in them.
Hurting Rather Than Helping
The most suspicious fact surrounding the advocacy of fluoridation is the inherent paradox in saying it benefits children’s developing teeth. Studies show that excessive fluoridation actually harms teeth, causing pitting and staining known as fluorosis. This condition can have a severe aesthetic effect on teeth, making them highly unattractive and also making your child a potential target of judgment or ridicule. Correcting the issues can require expensive ceramic bonding and other procedures.
Promising that a substance can do one thing when it in fact does the opposite should be cause for concern, indeed.
The Risks of Fluoridated Toothpaste
Another major alarming factor is that children are being exposed to fluoride through multiple sources, making managing their risk of too high of a dosage difficult. Ingesting toothpaste — because it tastes like bubblegum or fruit — can expose a child to enough fluoride to cause illness or poisoning.
Experts caution that children should simply not be allowed to swallow the toothpaste, but as anyone with a toddler knows, there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing them from doing something. The fact that the substance is placed in their mouth makes the danger even more likely. After all, what is a young child to think when you tell them to put something in their mouth but do not swallow because it might be poisonous?
Parents should definitely not underestimate the risk associated with fluoride toothpaste. Children 2 years old only need to ingest one to three grams of toothpaste to be poisoned. Even a child that is 9 years old and weighs 60+ pounds can ingest as little as 2.5 grams to be affected. This dose equates to just two percent of the entire tube.
We recommend children brush with fluoride free toothpastes only.
Overprescription of Fluoride Supplements
Even though there is fluoride in the water and in the toothpaste, some doctors do not seem to think that this is enough. They often recommend giving young children fluoride supplements with no regard for how much fluoride is already being ingested through the municipal water supply. Combining two large sources such as these makes the likelihood of fluorosis or acute toxicity that much higher. Parents should also be aware that many beverages such as grape juice and tea have even higher levels of fluoride than municipal water sources.
Overexposure to fluoride can carry extreme risks to a developing child, too. One study from Harvard discovered that children in China who had excessive levels of fluoride had neurological development problems that led to lower IQs.
For more information about the potential dangers of giving your child too much fluoride and how to avoid them, visit our fluoride-free dentistry page.