Ideal Daily Fluoride Dosages

Ages Fluoride Content of Drinking Water
0 ppm-0.3 ppm 0.3 ppm-0.6 ppm >0.6 ppm
6 mo.-3 yrs. 0.25mg F 0 0
3-6 yrs 0.5 F .25mg F 0
6-16 yrs. 1.0mg F 0.5mg F 0

Why fluoride is important

Fluoride is one of the most effective elements for preventing tooth decay. This mineral combines with tooth enamel to strenghten it against decay. Fluoride may also actually reverse microscopic cavities by enhancing the process by which minerals, including calcium, are incorporated into the teeth.

The most effective way for a child to get fluoride's protection is by drinking fluoridated water. This is of special benefit to children, because fluoride is incorporated into enamel as teeth form.

There are other ways of getting the benefits of fluoride if the child is living where the water system is not fluoridated.

  • taking prescribed fluoride tablets or drops--see above table for the correct dosage.
  • fluoride application in the dental office.
  • brushing with toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • using a fluoride mouthrinse.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fluoride

What is fluoride, and why is it good for my teeth?

Fluoride is found universally throughout nature in water, soil, air and in most foods. Fluoride is absorbed easily into tooth enamel, especially in children's growing teeth. Fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage is even visible.

Systemic fluoride is ingested when added to the water supply or is taken as a dietary supplement. Once systemic fluoride is absorbed into the blood supply it is distributed throughout the entire body and deposited in the bones and teeth.

What's a topical fluoride, and when should I use it?

Topical fluoride is a product containing high concentrations of fluoride. These products, including toothpaste and mouthrinse, are applied directly to the teeth and are then expectorated without swallowing.

Professionally administered topical fluorides are applied to the teeth following a professionally administered cleaning. For patients with a high risk of dental caries, a home fluoride gel or rinse may be prescribed.

Why are many public water supplies fluoridated?

Fluoridated water protects against cavities and root caries (which afflicts mostly older individuals), and helps remineralize early carious lesions. More than 144 million United States residents in more than 10,000 communities drink fluoridated water. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the optimal range of fluoride in water lies between 0.7 and 1.2 parts per million. Water fluoridation is endorsed by nearly every major health and safety related organization.

Can I get too much fluoride?

In general, the use of fluoride is considered safe unless it's misused or overconcentrated. An excess of fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, a harmless cosmetic discoloring or mottling of the enamel, visible as chalky white specks and lines or pitted and brown stained enamel on developing teeth.

To avoid fluorosis, avoid swallowing toothpaste, mouthrinses, or other topical supplements. Check to be sure that you are taking the recommended dosage of systemic supplements.

Are children more sensitive to fluoride?

Children are more vulnerable to dental fluorosis because their developing teeth are sensitive to higher fluoride levels. They are at greater risk if they swallow or overuse toothpaste and fluoride supplements. It is important to monitor your child's intake and use of fluoride.

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