Does My Toddler Need Fluoride Supplements
Your dentist is correct in recommending fluoride to your toddler. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among other organizations, recommend that fluoride be provided to children beginning at age 6 months and continuing through age 16 — or throughout life, for those of who drink public water!
For almost the past 50 years, fluoride has been proven to provide dramatic protection against tooth decay. Most children today have far fewer cavities than their parents and grandparents had. In fact, well over half of the children currently growing up in our country have never had a cavity!
Decades ago many communities responded to the problem of tooth decay by adding fluoride to the public water supply. Fluoridated tap water contains about 1 ppm (part per million), the amount most experts think prevents tooth decay safely. Private wells can be tested to determine how much fluoride is naturally present in the water.
A problem arises when the fluoride concentration in a child’s water supply cannot be easily measured, or when the child drinks well water or bottled water at home, takes a fluoride supplement, and then drinks fluoridated water at day care or at school in a nearby community. It is possible that the child could receive too little fluoride (and get cavities) or too much fluoride (and get fluorosis, or white/brown spots on the child’s permanent teeth).
Pediatricians and dentists recommend that you test your water supply if it is not a public fluoridated system. Your state health department will determine the amount of natural fluoride in your well water. Your pediatrician’s office will be able to help you arrange the testing.
If you order bottled water from the same distributor or water company, you should call the company and ask what the fluoride concentration of the water is. Or you may choose to send a sample of the water to the state for testing. Please inform your pediatrician about the fluoride concentration so that she can prescribe the proper dose of fluoride drops or tablets, according to your child’s age. One of our important public health goals is that no child today should suffer the pain and long-term consequences of dental cavities.