Spotting the first pearly whites in your little one’s mouth is an important developmental milestone in your child’s growth. So important that we parents keep it alive in baby books to remember for years after.
From their first appearance onwards, we focus on taking the utmost care of our baby’s teeth. From finding the perfect age-appropriate, soft and cute toothbrush, to the toothpaste flavour the kids will love, we try to do everything just right. However, are you aware that even the most popular kids toothpaste contains a chemical called fluoride? While small quantities of fluoride are required for healthy teeth, an overdose of fluoride can cause many ill-effects on children’s health.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical found in many sources like drinking water, fortified cereals, infant formula, juices and many more. Fluoride helps in preventing cavities and fighting tooth decay. The amount of fluoride required for maintaining healthy teeth is easily consumed by a child in his everyday diet.
Research has indicated that when excessive fluoride is consumed especially by young children, it can cause many ill-effects on their health. Babies younger than 6 months of age should not get any fluoride supplements. Beyond that age, the children’s fluoride needs are taken care of by clean drinking tap water and their daily food sources. Any additional fluoride should only be given on the pediatrician's advise.
What are the ill-effects of excessive Fluoride on children?
When children brush their teeth, unlike adults, they often end up swallowing the toothpaste. If the child uses an adult’s toothpaste or even a children’s toothpaste with fluoride, this can increase the fluoride intake in small children beyond the recommended limits. This excess fluoride can have many ill-effects on children’s health, especially during early childhood.
Fluorosis begins as white streaks, lines or spots on teeth. In teeth with acute fluorosis, the tooth enamel is permanently damaged and the teeth become discoloured and have brown or grey spots on them. Dentists can only correct the teeth discolouration of your child using dental procedures, but they will not be able to restore the damaged tooth enamel. Therefore, it is important to prevent the onset of fluorosis.
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Research also links excess fluoride intake to children’s IQ. Children who consume excessive fluoride perform poorly in IQ tests. High fluoride intake affects the brain developments of children and can also cause behavioural issues.
Some children might be allergic to fluoride. The symptoms of fluoride allergy include skin rashes, mouth ulcers, headaches, weakness, gastric problems, and nausea.
- Impaired glucose metabolism:
Excessive fluoride intake may lead to excess blood sugar in some people as it affects the body’s ability to process glucose. In people with existing diabetes, it could lead to an increase in the severity of diabetes.
You can implement a simple corrective measure at home to avoid the negative effects of fluoride. Simply replace your child’s toothpaste with a natural, fluoride-free toothpaste for healthy teeth and your child’s overall health.
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Best ways to care for children’s teeth
- Do not use an adult’s toothpaste for young children’s teeth (below 10 years of age) due to the high fluoride content in adult toothpaste. Adult toothpaste commonly contains a high amount of fluoride (1,000 parts per million or more). Unlike adults, children while brushing frequently swallow the toothpaste and using an adult toothpaste will cause small children to ingest fluoride at a level that can cause fluorosis of the teeth or fluoride allergy.
- Use a completely safe, fluoride free toothpaste such as Mama Earth’s 100% natural toothpaste which contains high-quality ingredients like xylitol, aloe vera, and stevia. These ingredients are plant-based and completely safe even if ingested by young children. Click here
- Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth sprouts. Do not wait to begin brushing till the child has a mouthful of teeth. Teeth should be brushed twice - once before bedtime and once at any other time during the day.
- The child’s diet - what they eat and when they eat plays an important part in the child’s dental health. Make sure your child eats plenty of salads and fresh fruit as the process of chewing helps in removing plaque from teeth. Limit the consumption of snacks, especially sugary ones after brushing teeth at bedtime.
- Keep up the dentist’s appointment for a semi-annual teeth check-up so that any trouble with children’s teeth like cavities, in-grown teeth or the early effects of fluorosis can be spotted and treated early. Regular dental check-ups since childhood will also help form a lifelong habit of health check-ups.
Like every parent, you want the best for your child. As far as your child’s dental health is concerned, the solution is easily available and simple. Simply switching to a 100% natural, fluoride-free children’s toothpaste will not only ensure your child has healthy teeth, but also that he grows up with a healthy mind and body.