Our mouths contain bacteria that use sugars in the foods we eat and the beverages we drink, to produce an acid that harms our teeth.
Fluoride protects our teeth and is an important mineral, especially for children. However, too much fluoride can cause something called dental fluorosis which can harm our teeth.
Dental fluorosis results in a slight change in the look of the teeth, usually in the form of very faint white markings. Typically, the fluorosis seen in the US is a mild form that does not cause pain and does not affect the health or function of teeth. Fluorosis only occurs when fluoride is consumed before the age of 8, while permanent teeth are still forming under the gums.
When we help our children brush their teeth, it’s important to use toothpaste with fluoride to help protect their teeth, but it’s also important that they spit out the toothpaste, rather than swallow it. Make sure to read the directions on all children’s toothpaste products to know how much toothpaste to put on their toothbrush. A good general rule is children under three should use a thin smear, and children over 3 should use an amount the size of a pea. Young children should not use mouthwash or mouth rinse.
There are many conflicting theories around dental fluorosis and that’s why you need to turn to trusted voices to help you determine what you need to know for yourself and your family. This is where your family dentist plays an important role. Start regular dentist visits for your child by their first birthday. Children who consume a typical diet, drink fluoridated water, and use fluoridated dental products properly will get the fluoride they need for healthy teeth and are no more at risk of fluorosis now than children were 20 years ago.
“What You Need to Know About Fluorosis Today”, Campaign for Dental Health.