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Fluoride mineral is essential for healthy teeth. It is necessary that the right quantity of fluoride be administered to children. Both too much fluoride and inadequate quantity of fluoride is bad for the health of the child. Excess of fluoride, if administered to the child, could result in chalky spots on the teeth or improper enamel formation on teeth. In addition to damage to teeth excess of fluoride could result in weight loss, brittle bones and anemia. Consumption of excess of fluoride for a longer time could also aid in development of cancer and fractured hips. One can conclude that a balanced amount of fluoride will aid in development of healthy teeth.

Fluoride requirements for kids

Generally some fluoride is present in the water supplied by the water supply department to households. Kids need fluoride starting at the age of 6 months to 16 years. Even pregnant women are advised to take fluoride supplement from sixth month of gestation to ensure strong teeth development as the child grows up. Correct additional dose required for the kids can be calculated only after ascertaining the quantity present in tap supply. Some fluoride is also present in bottled water but it is not sufficient to prevent tooth decay. The correct ratio of presence of fluoride in tap water should be from 0.7 to 1.2 parts of fluoride per one million parts of water.

In case the child lives in an area where the water does not contain fluorides in it or drinks bottled water or from water purifiers installed at home which removes minerals supplementary dose will be needed to be administered. The dentist is the right person to be consulted in this regard. Fluoride supplemented tooth pastes can help eradicate fluoride deficiency. As a general rule:

  • Kids below the age of two should not use tooth paste with fluoride unless advised by the doctor.
  • Kids below the age of six should be properly supervised while brushing the teeth using fluoride tooth paste as they tend to consume too much paste.
  • Not more than pea size fluoride tooth paste should be given to the children for brushing teeth.
  • Fluoride supplemented mouth wash should never be given to the kids up to ten years of age. For older kids this may be used with the permission of the dentist.

Your family dentist who has the history of tooth health of the family is the best person to suggest use of supplements.

Is fluoride safe for children?

In case of excess intake of fluoride during short period of time may lead to fluoride toxicity. This is not a serious problem but may lead to hospitalisation for a short duration or even admission to the emergency room. Main symptoms of fluoride toxicity are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in abdomen region
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increase in salivation

The symptoms start to appear within 30 minutes of consumption of fluorides and continue for 24 hours. It is essential to keep the fluoride supplements including tooth paste and mouth wash containing fluoride away from the reach of the kids.