Fluoride is often touted for its smile-saving benefits, but too much fluoride in early childhood can actually damage a child’s teeth. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, fluorosis occurs when a child is exposed to high amounts of fluoride while their teeth are still developing, resulting in tooth enamel defects. Mild cases of fluorosis are characterized by white streaks or specks on the tooth, while severe cases can cause brown discoloration. In such severe cases, the enamel may be rough and difficult to clean. AAPD suggests that children may develop fluorosis in several ways, including by swallowing fluoridated toothpaste, taking too much of a fluoride supplement, or taking a supplement when there is sufficient amounts of fluoride in their drinking water. The necessary amount of fluoride varies according to an individual child’s size and weight.
Although it may be tempting to cut out fluoride altogether, remember that in the proper amounts, fluoride is very important to a child’s oral health. Instead, contact a pediatric dentist through your True Care Advantage discount dental plan to talk about the optimal fluoride levels for your child. A dentist can assist you in determining the current level of fluoride in your drinking water and inform you if it would be wise to give your child an additional supplement. At home, be sure to watch your children carefully when they brush their teeth and teach them to spit out toothpaste instead of swallowing. Simple steps like these can help you protect your child’s smile for years to come.