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Dental Care

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. Since the early 1950s, fluoride has been added to municipal drinking water systems, over-the-counter toothpastes, mouthwashes and some prescription multivitamin or fluoride supplements. Yet, too much daily intake of fluoride by babies and children up to age 8 may cause a condition called “fluorosis.”

For the most part, fluorosis is a cosmetic problem associated with discoloration or mottling of the tooth enamel. Although uncommon, more severe cases of fluorosis are associated with brittle bones, calcified ligaments and bone breakage.

Here are simple measures to prevent accidental fluoride overdose or excess chronic intake of fluoride:

  • When your infant’s first tooth appears, brush without toothpaste, using plain water and a small soft bristled toothbrush after each meal.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste no more than twice daily once your child turns 2 years old.
  • Apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to your child’s toothbrush.
  • Discourage children from swallowing toothpaste after brushing to avoid the risk of fluorosis.
  • Do not use prescription fluoride supplements if your tap water is treated with fluoride. When in doubt ask your pediatrician or dentist.
  • You may use fluoridated water to prepare baby formula. Since there is a risk of mild fluorosis, however, when using fluoridated water exclusively to mix baby formulas, you may wish to use a low-fluoride bottled water.

Parents and caregivers should keep all toothpastes and mouthwashes well out of the reach of small children when not in use. If you have any questions about an accidental ingestion or safe use of any dental hygiene product, call IPC at 1-800-222-1222.

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