Fluoride from drinking
water and other sources such as toothpaste can strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent
tooth decay. Below is a list of questions that parents frequently ask about fluoride and how it can help their children.
Q: Why do children need fluoride?
A: Fluoride is an important mineral for all children. Bacteria in the mouth combine with sugars and produce acid that can harm tooth enamel and damage teeth. Fluoride protects teeth from acid damage and helps reverse early signs of decay. Make sure your children are drinking plenty of water and brushing with toothpaste that has fluoride in it.
Q: Is fluoridated water safe for my children?
A: Yes. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agree that
water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to
prevent tooth decay.
Q: Should I mix infant formula with fluoridated water?
A: According to the ADA, it is safe to use fluoridated water to
mix infant formula. The risk if mixing infant formula with fluoridated water is mild fluorosis (see below for more information on this condition). However, if you have concerns about this, talk with your
Q: What if I prefer not to use fluoridated water for infant formula?
A: If you prefer not to use fluoridated water with formula, you can:
Q: What if we live in a community where the water is not fluoridated? What can we do?
A: Check with your local water utility agency to find out if your water has fluoride in it. If it doesn't, ask your pediatrician or dentist if your child is at HIGH risk for dental caries (also known as tooth decay or a cavity). He or she may recommend you buy fluoridated water or give you a prescription for fluoride drops or tablets for your child.
Q: How else can my child get fluoride?
A: There are many sources of fluoride. Fluoridated water and toothpaste are the most common. It is also found in many foods and beverages. So making sure your child eats a balanced diet with plenty of
vitamin D is a great way to keep teeth healthy. Your dentist or pediatrician may also recommend a topical fluoride treatment during well child or dental visits at various stages of your child's development.
Q: When should my child start using fluoride toothpaste?
A: The AAP and the ADA recommend using a "smear" of toothpaste on children once the first tooth appears and until your child is 3. Once your child has turned 3, a pea-sized amount can be used.
Q: What is dental fluorosis and will fluoridated water mixed with infant formula increase the risk?
A: Although using fluoridated water to prepare infant formula might increase the risk of dental fluorosis, most cases are mild.
Fluorosis usually appears as very faint white streaks on the teeth. Often it is only noticeable by a dental expert during an exam. Mild fluorosis is not painful and does not affect the function or health of the teeth.
Once your child's adult teeth come in (usually around age 8), the risk of developing fluorosis is over.