Fluorosis and Fluoride

The use of fluoridated toothpaste is essential in the prevention of dental caries. However, an intake of too much fluoride may cause a condition known as fluorosis, which manifests as white or brown spots on the enamel layer of teeth. Teeth with fluorosis appear chalky in appearance and the effects can be mild to severe. Since young children tend to swallow toothpaste when they are brushing, this may increase their exposure to fluoride and may put them at risk for fluorosis on their permanent teeth.

  • Children from birth to age 3 should have their teeth and gums brushed by an adult.
  • Parents should consult a dental professional to determine the level of risk their child is at for developing dental caries.
  • If the child is at risk for dental decay, parents should be brushing the child’s teeth with a minimal amount of fluoridated toothpaste, a portion the size of a grain of rice.
  • If the child is not at risk, brushing with a toothbrush moistened with water is adequate.
  • Parents should be assisting children from 3 to 6 years of age in brushing their teeth with a small, pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.

Although fluoridated mouth rinses are effective in preventing caries in high risk individuals, it should be used according to the needs of the individual and are not recommended for children under 6 years of age.