Is Fluoride Harmful to Toddlers?

By now, you’ve probably seen every fluoride-free toothpaste alternative under the sun––charcoal toothpaste, coconut oil toothpaste, baking soda toothpaste, and so on. Why is there such a sudden change in people’s preferences for toothpaste? And for parents, does this mean your child shouldn’t use toothpaste with fluoride? Before you throw out your child’s toothpaste, here’s what you should know about fluoride in toothpaste.

Is Fluoride Bad for Toddlers?

A change in guidelines from the American Dental Association (ADA) a few years ago has left a lingering question in the minds of parents everywhere: Is fluoride safe for my child? For years, the ADA recommended that parents wait until their children were at least two years old to start using fluoride toothpaste. However, this recommendation changed in leniency in February 2014, where parents were told they could use a small amount of fluoride once their children started showing teeth.

So, why would the ADA suddenly go back on its long winded policy? And what does this mean for your child?

A Background on Fluoride

Fluoride is an effective way to prevent and even reverse the early signs of tooth decay. It’s commonly used in dentistry to improve dental health, strengthen the teeth enamel, and reverse the early signs of tooth decay. It makes tooth structure stronger, so teeth are more resistant to acid attacks. 

Many of us take in fluoride naturally through the water we drink––especially tap water––but not all parts of the country require that fluoride be part of the drinking water. Groups like the ADA have long recommended brushing your child’s teeth and seeing a dentist as early as age one. 

Research on Fluoride Shows Interesting Findings

As mentioned earlier, 2014 was a pivotal moment for fluoride toothpaste, as a new study conducted by the ADA brought its recommendations in line with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, which has long suggested the use of fluoride toothpaste as soon as teeth begin to show. 

This change also came after research showing an increase of cavities among preschool age children noted by the Centers for Disease Control. In some instances, the situations were so bad that some children had to be put under general anesthesia for cavity fillings.

The hope is that fluoride toothpaste would be integrated into the equation earlier so that children would not end up with so many cavities in their younger years. The ADA recommends that children spit out toothpaste after it’s applied to the teeth to prevent a condition called fluorosis, which is a slight discoloration caused by excess fluoride exposure. 

Reinforcing good habits with your children can help prevent childhood tooth decay and put them on a path toward good oral hygiene.

So, What Is Best for Your Child?

After exhausting yourself with information about fluoride, are you still wondering if it’s the best choice for your child? Even though your child’s baby teeth will eventually come out, you need to take care of them, as well as get their cavities taken care of at a young age to prevent future problems. 

When it comes to fluoride, you need to find a proper balance to using just enough of it, but not too much. Another factor to consider is how many sugary snacks and drinks your child consumes on a regular basis. They might need a bit of fluoride to combat the effects of sugar on their teeth. 

If you’re still not entirely on board with the idea of using fluoride toothpaste, talk to your dentist, and come to a more informed decision about whether or not you should use fluoride toothpaste with your child.
Are you concerned about your child’s teeth? We’ll do our best to answer any and all questions you have pertaining to your child’s oral health. Contact your dentist at LeCroy Dental to schedule an appointment!