Where is fluoride found?
There are two types of fluoride: topical and systemic.
Topical fluoride is found in:
- products containing strong concentrations of fluoride (toothpastes, mouth rinses)
- fluoridated varnishes and/or gels either topically applied by a dentist or other oral health care professional, or prescribed as an at-home regimen (particularly for persons with a high risk of dental caries)
Systemic fluoride is found in:
- public and private water supplies
- soft drinks
- as dietary supplements
- some bottled water supplies
Once ingested, systemic fluoride is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract and distributed and deposited throughout the body via the blood supply.
Who should receive extra fluoride?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children between 6 months and 16 take in some form of fluoride every day. The most common sources are drinking water (not bottled water) and toothpastes that contain fluoride.
- Your child's physician or dentist will determine if your child is not receiving enough fluoride and may choose to prescribe fluoride supplements.
- These come either as drops or tablets that are taken by mouth. The amount of fluoride that is prescribed is based on the child's age and amount of fluoride in the drinking water.
What health risks are associated with fluoride?
In general, fluoride consumption is safe. Health risks associated with fluoridation are usually limited to misuse and over concentration. To avoid misuse and over doing it:
- Avoid swallowing toothpaste and other dental hygiene products.
- Avoid drinking overly fluoridated water, which may cause teeth to become discolored or look spotted, pitted or stained (a condition known as dental fluorosis).
How to ensure your child is not vulnerable to fluoride over concentration
Call the local water department and/or the health department to evaluate the fluoride level in your local drinking reservoir.
Children are especially vulnerable to dental fluorosis as their developing teeth are more sensitive to higher fluoride levels. Consult your child's physician or dentist if you notice changes in the condition of your child's teeth.