According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 211.4 million Americans received the oral health benefits of fluoridated water in 2014. If you're like most parents, you take your child's oral health very seriously, and if you don't live in an area with fluoridated water, you might be considering asking a dentist about fluoride treatments. The only thing keeping you from making the call is the misinformation you've received from friends and family about the potential dangers of fluoride. Here are a few of the most common myths and misconceptions about dental fluoride:
My Child Will Develop Fluorosis
When your child's developing teeth are exposed to too much fluoride, it can lead to a discoloration that is known as fluorosis. The discoloration can range from white spots to dark brown, and noticeable pitting. If your child drinks fluoridated water, takes a fluoride supplement and uses fluoride toothpaste, they can develop this condition.
It is vital that if your city's water is already fluoridated, you do not provide your child with supplemental fluoride, or allow them to brush their teeth often. When your child brushes their teeth, it is also critical they spit it out and do now swallow it, because this level of fluoride combined with supplemental fluoride can lead to this condition.
However, if your child is brushing their teeth normally and taking a fluoride supplement or drinking fluoridated water, they will not develop this condition. The levels of fluoride in your drinking water or the supplement are not high enough to cause fluorosis on their own.
My Child Will Get Enough Fluoride from Toothpaste
Another common misconception about fluoride is that your child simply doesn't need it because they are getting enough of this valuable substance from their toothpaste. However, while the fluoride in toothpaste is beneficial, there is not a high enough level to provide your child with the protection they need to protect their teeth from bacteria and plaque build-up.
Instead, allow your child to drink the city's fluoridated water, or if this isn't available, ask your dentist about a fluoride supplement. When your child takes supplemental fluoride, and brushes their teeth twice-a-day, they will get the amount of this beneficial compound they need to protect their teeth.
Fluoride Is Unsafe for Babies and Toddlers
If you have a baby who prefers bottles, or a child that enjoys tap water, you might be concerned about the potential risk of exposing your young child to fluoride. However, before you stop utilizing tap water, or forego fluoride treatments, it's important to note that controlled fluoride levels are very safe for your infant or toddler.
Mixing bottles with fluoridated water, or letting your toddler or preschooler drink fluoridated water from the tap can actually help strengthen their developing teeth. If you have any further concerns, don't hesitate to speak with your dentist.
Removing Fluoride from My City's Water System Will Save Me Money
If your city's water supply is supplemented with fluoride, you might think that this public health measure isn't worth the investment. In truth, there is a small amount of fluoride in most municipal water supplies, and adding it to your city's water system is a very minor expense.
When you provide your family with fluoridated water, you are lessening the likelihood they will need costly dental procedures in the future. When you compare the cost of fluoridating water to the cost of your potential dental bills, it is clear that adding this supplement to your child's water supply is a great investment.
From the threat of fluorosis to the potential safety hazard to your toddler or infant, there are several myths and misconceptions associated with fluoride. If you have any additional questions about the potential risk and benefits of fluoride, don't hesitate to contact your dentist.