Fluoride and Your Teeth

As early as a six-month well visit, doctors and pediatricians commonly ask questions about your family’s water source, and what type of water your child may be drinking and/or using in formula. So what difference does it make to your health?

Fluoride can prevent, or even reverse, early tooth decay when it is ingested, and comes in contact with the teeth. About 60% of American households have fluoridated water on tap (some communities have a water supply with naturally occurring fluoride, while others have it added in at a water plant). If you live in an area where the water is not fluoridated, or if your children drink bottled water consistently, your doctor or dentist may prescribe a fluoride supplement.

As with vitamins, fluoride in excessive quantities can be harmful. Too much fluoride can cause discoloration of the tooth enamel, or in very rare cases, fluoride toxicity. Fluoride toxicity only occurs when too much fluoride is ingested in a very short period of time. This can cause nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Because of these rare but negative effects, be sure to keep fluoride toothpaste, supplements, and mouth rinses out of reach of children. Do not use fluoride toothpaste with children under the age of 2, and don’t give fluoride supplements to children who get enough of the element in other places.

As always, ask your doctor or dentist any questions about the benefits of fluoride and whether you or your children are receiving enough (or too much).

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