Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Fluoride During Childhood
Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent
tooth decay and
dental cavities. It may be added to local water supplies,
toothpastes, and other mouth care products. Pediatric dentists recommend that you use a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste up to age 3. Ask your dentist if this is right for your child. Use a pea-sized amount for children ages 3 to 6 years.footnote 1
Studies show a reduction in tooth decay in children if fluoride is added to or is found naturally in a community's
water supply.footnote 1 To find out how much fluoride is in your
drinking water, call your local water company or the state health department.
have your own well, have the state health department check your water to find
out if your family needs fluoride from other sources. Normal amounts of fluoride added to public water supplies and bottled water are safe for children and adults.
If your child has a high risk of getting cavities, your dentist may recommend
additional sources of fluoride. These include supplements or a gel or varnish that the dentist would apply to your child's teeth. Use supplements only as directed. And keep them out of reach of your child. Too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth.
Too much fluoride swallowed during the
early childhood years may cause white, brown, or black spots or streaks on the
outside of the teeth (fluorosis). This may also cause the tooth enamel to
safe in the amounts provided in water supplies but can be toxic in large
amounts. Toxic levels depend on your child's weight. A lethal dose of fluoride
for a 3-year-old child is 500 mg and is even
less for a younger child or infant. Keep all products containing fluoride, such
as toothpastes and mouthwashes, away from children. If you think your child may
have swallowed too much fluoride, call your local poison control center or the National Poison Control Hotline right away at
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (2013). Guidelines on fluoride therapy. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/G_FluorideTherapy.pdf. Accessed December 3, 2013.
Other Works Consulted
Bailey WD (2009). Community water fluoridation. In NO Harris et al., eds., Primary Preventive Dentistry, 7th ed., pp. 212–238. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Campbell PR (2009). Topical fluoride therapy. In NO Harris et al., eds., Primary Preventive Dentistry, 7th ed., pp. 245–271. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Weyent RJ, et al. (2013). Topical fluoride for caries prevention. American Dental Association Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry. http://ebd.ada.org/contentdocs/Topical_fluoride_for_caries_prevention_2013_update_-_full_manuscript.pdf. Accessed November 8, 2013.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerArden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
Current as ofNovember 20, 2015
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.