Fluoride For My Baby – How Much Does it Need?
Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens enamel which helps protect the tooth. It also makes the tooth more resistant to acids and harmful bacteria. There have been many negative myths about fluoride, which makes the use sometimes controversial, but studies have continually shown that it is a safe and effective supplement for the prevention of tooth decay.
It has been added to drinking water for over 50 years, and ranks up there with vaccines and water purification as one of the most effective public health measures of the twentieth century. Fluoride that enters the body from drinking water goes into the bloodstream and then into the enamel of the tooth. When it is applied topically with toothpaste or by your dentist, it strengthens the enamel and prevents decay.
The administration of fluoride should be part of every child’s dental care, but directions should be followed because giving excessive amounts of fluoride during the first three years of life can cause dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is a chalky white to brown discoloration of the permanent teeth. Teeth may become pitted and yellow or brown. After seven years of age, fluorosis does not occur. Fluoride supplementation should be carefully prescribed until this age.
It’s important to be aware of just where your child may be receiving fluoride. It may be in the water at your child’s daycare or school, in formula, juices and soft drinks, and of course in toothpaste. Check with your municipal water supply to find out if fluoride is added. If you have a well, have your water tested at a lab or buy a do it yourself kit and test to see how much fluoride is in your home water supply. This information is vital for your pediatrician, so he can determine just how much your child is receiving.
Babies under six months of age do not need any fluoride, so it is important to use water that does not contain any when making formula. Nursery water is sold for this purpose. Once they start using toothpaste, your toddler should not use a fluoride toothpaste if he or she is under two years of age because they do not spit out the paste very well. If your water tests at less than .3 parts per million, your doctor will probably prescribe fluoride drops for your baby if he is between the ages of six months and two years. The amount recommended by physicians is .25 milligrams per day. Often the drops are added to cereal or your baby’s bottle.
Once your child can use fluoride toothpaste, the amount of fluoride drops should be adjusted. When brushing with fluoride paste, never use more than a pea size amount and make sure your child know he should never swallow it, and should spit it out really good after brushing. Sometimes, a doctor will advise a low dose fluoride toothpaste for two year olds to use until they have correctly mastered brushing and rinsing their teeth.