Are fluoride supplements necessary and safe for babies?
Extensive evidence over several decades has found fluoride to be safe, but U.S. health authorities only recommend fluoride supplementation if your child meets all these criteria:
- Has at least one tooth. This is because fluoride works best topically, meaning it is most effective when teeth have poked through the gums.
- Doesn’t brush their teeth twice a day. This can be with or without fluoride toothpaste.
- Doesn’t regularly consume water with optimal fluoride levels. Many natural water supplies contain fluoride, and many public water supplies – a.k.a. “city water” – have the optimal level of fluoride added to them for the purpose of cavity prevention. That means children already consuming fluoridated water don’t need additional supplementation.
What are the risks of drinking too much fluoride?
The only well-documented downside of consuming slightly more fluoride than necessary is having white blotches on teeth, which is called fluorosis. In most cases in developed countries, this is a barely noticeable cosmetic issue than doesn’t affect tooth health. It’s only in rare and extreme cases that children and adults who consume fluoride at double or triple the recommended amount for long periods of time experience damage to their teeth or bones.
Knowing this, health authorities recommend that parents regularly mixing infant formula with fluoridated water use non-fluoridated or low-fluoride water periodically, whether bottled or from another source, to reduce the chance of discoloring a child’s teeth.
Why do so many other websites say fluoride is dangerous?
Because people misunderstand or exaggerate the science in order to get attention for themselves.
We’ve looked at a number of anti-fluoride websites, and they often ignore key facts or rely on misleading evidence. With fluoride, there is a tremendous amount of data showing that it absolutely reduces the risk of cavities, and very little data showing it can be harmful at uncommonly high dosages. The current evidence shows that fluoride supplementation is safe and beneficial for those children who need it, as outlined above.
Why should I trust you?
In doing thorough research on this topic, we found these to be the most useful and factual sources. We recommend reading them if you’d like more in-depth information:
- “U.S. Public Health Service Recommendation for Fluoride Concentration in Drinking Water for the Prevention of Dental Caries,” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Federal Panel on Community Water Fluoridation.
- “Evidence-Based Clinical Recommendations on the Prescription of Dietary Fluoride Supplements for Caries Prevention” from The Journal of the American Dental Association.
- “Fluoride toothpaste use for young children” from The Journal of the American Dental Association.
- “FAQ: Fluoride and Children,” from HealthyChildren.org.
- “Where We Stand: Fluoride Supplements,” by HealthyChildren.org.