Fluoride Toothpaste: is it recommended for kids?
Is fluoride toothpaste recommended for children or adults only? Know why the medical community is divided in this matter.
Some of you will remember being given fluoride supplements at school just to see the use of fluoride, especially in children’s health, being the target of extensive criticism and controversy. Some of you might never have used fluoride supplements and have grown up without a strong opinion on fluoride toothpaste.
Since oral care is very important for us, we’d like to clear the water on this topic. Come along, and know more about fluoride toothpaste – it’s benefits, the potential dangers, and why it is so controversial when it comes to children.
Why is there fluoride toothpaste to begin with?
Fluoride toothpaste is highly popular, and there is a reason for that. Fluoride appears to prevent caries or commonly called cavities. In general, fluoride prevents and helps with tooth decay, which has made it so popular in toothpaste. Extensive studies have been produced, and a great majority has shown that fluoride prevents mineral loss in tooth enamel and replaces lost minerals.
In other words, fluoride protects the outer layer of our teeth, which is the first layer that comes into contact with food, saliva and digestion acids.
Is fluoride toothpaste safe?
The normal concentration of fluoride in toothpaste is around 1000 to 1500 ppm (parts per million). This means that there is 0,1 to 0,15% of fluoride in your toothpaste. Now, although fluoride is highly toxic to human life, these concentrations are not.
The FFFF defines the adequate daily intake of fluorides in human adults as 4mg for males and 3mg for females. Since a whole tube of fluoride toothpaste contains about 100 mg of fluoride in it, one would need to consistently ingest toothpaste during the normal oral care routine to feel adverse effects.
As such, fluoride is considered safe, if the necessary precautions are followed – such as not ingesting toothpaste and applying an appropriate amount. But remember, it is completely normal to ingest a little bit of fluoride toothpaste every time we brush our teeth. This is predicted by health systems around the world and has for the most part been deemed safe in adults.
What are the concerns regarding children and fluoride toothpaste?
When it comes to children, the use of fluoride toothpaste has had some controversy. Children have a lower tolerance for fluoride than adults. For reference, according to the FFFFF, the daily adequate intake of fluoride by children is 0,01 mg from birth to 6 months old; 0,5 mg between 7 and 12 months; 0,7 mg from 12 months to 3 years; 1 mg from 4 to 8 years of age; 2 mg between 8 and 13 years; and 3 mg in teenagers between 14 and 18 years of age.
The biggest concern with children and fluoride toothpaste is that – to put it simply – kids will be kids and will often swallow toothpaste. This is why it is so important to have parental supervision during the time children brush their teeth, both to make sure the adequate amounts of toothpaste are used (ranging from the size of half to one pea), and that no child will eat a whole toothpaste tube, for example.
Additionally, there are other sources of fluorine, such as water, and some foods. This raises concern to how much fluoride children are exposed to, daily. Strangely enough, the fluoridation of the public supply water and the addition of small doses of fluoride to certain foods were measures taken into action with the help of preventing tooth decay.
Is it safe for children to use fluoride toothpaste?
Although the recommendations vary slightly from country to country, most European countries recommend the use of fluoride toothpaste in children as soon as the first teeth come out. Note that the amount of fluoride toothpaste used in this case should be the same size as a grain of rice.
So, what is the verdict? While fluoride toothpaste has proven to be beneficial both for children’s and adults’ oral care, some factors that might play a role in this, such as the additional sources of fluoride. As such, this choice is a very personal one, that parents should make with the help of a paediatrician.
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