Cavities, Bad Breath and Other Embarrassing Topics

Is Your Child Getting the Right Amount of Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel, which in turn reduces the risk of tooth decay. On the other hand, too much fluoride in childhood can negatively affect the development of adult teeth. Here are a few things to consider to work out whether your child is getting too much or not enough fluoride.

Are You Using Age-Appropriate Toothpaste?

Most adult toothpastes contain fluoride because of its beneficial impact on reducing the risk of tooth decay. However, children should use toothpaste that contains less fluoride because they are prone to swallowing it, which means they could end up with too much fluoride exposure. Always purchase toothpaste that is designed for an age range that matches that of your child.

Do You Supervise Brushing?

It is important that children learn how to brush their teeth properly, which means distributing the toothpaste around all their teeth but not swallowing it. Always supervise your children as they brush their teeth so you can give them guidance. Teach your child to brush every tooth surface thoroughly and then spit the toothpaste out at the end.

Does Your Child Drink Fluoridated Water?

All major Australian cities add fluoride to their drinking water to promote good dental health. However, if you live in a rural part of Australia, your local water supply might not contain fluoride. You can contact your local water supplier to find out.

If you are not sure whether your children are drinking fluoridated water, consult a local family dentist in your home town. The dentist can let you know whether fluoride levels in the local water supply are adequate to protect your child's teeth. If your child is not getting enough fluoride, the dentist can prescribe tablets or drops to help them get the right amount to protect them from tooth decay. Do not give these tablets to your children unless your dentist recommends them, as they can result in kids getting too much fluoride.

Does Your Child Have Symptoms of Fluorodosis?

Fluorodosis is a condition that develops when children are exposed to too much fluoride. The most noticeable symptom is brown marks on the teeth. If you notice your children's teeth becoming discoloured, ask your family dentist for advice. A dentist can let you know whether the marks are caused by excessive fluoride or by another cause, such as staining from food and drink, or improper cleaning technique.