Baby-Teeth Basics

Why Fluoride's Not Safe Yet

You probably know that fluoride strengthens teeth and prevents decay. So why shouldn't your toddler use it? Simple: Because too much of a good thing can be bad. Most 1-year-olds can't resist swallowing toothpaste, and ingesting large amounts of it can lead to fluorosis, a condition that causes defects in the enamel (including discoloration and uneven surfaces) of permanent teeth and leaves them more vulnerable to cavities.

Your child won't be ready for fluoride toothpaste until age 2 or 3 (when she learns to stop swallowing it). In the meantime, make sure she gets enough of the compound from other sources. If your local drinking water isn't fluoridated, ask your dentist whether your child needs to take a supplement.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the January 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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