Fluoride for Children
Posted on August 02 2022,
Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally found in several foods and is also available in the form of dietary supplements. Research has revealed that this trace mineral is naturally present in plants, water, and soil. That’s why most of the fluoride you consume comes from foods, fluoridated water, toothpaste, beverages, and dental products that contain fluoride.
What does fluoride do? Fluoride is the ionic form of the fluorine element, which can reverse or prevent the progression and initiation of dental problems (tooth decay). This mineral also promotes the formation of new bones in the human body and plays an essential role in the mineralization of your teeth and bones, which is an important process that keeps them strong and hard. One study has depicted that almost 99% of fluoride is stored in your teeth and bones. (1)
Symptoms of fluoride deficiency include weak bones and cavities in children. To replenish fluoride in your child’s body, you might consider toothpaste, beverages, mouthwash, and foods that are supplemented with this mineral. Fluoride is also available in the form of multi-mineral and multivitamin products. (2)
How Does Fluoride Function in Your Child’s Body?
Fluoride is mandatory for your child’s bone and dental health. Research has found that this mineral is valuable for your child’s teeth because it supports the remineralization of weakened tooth enamel, slows tooth damage, prevents mineral loss from teeth, and stops the growth of pathogenic oral bacteria. (3)
According to health experts, the presence of harmful bacteria in your child’s mouth breaks down sugars and carbohydrates into acid that dissolves minerals from the teeth enamel. This process is known as demineralization. In this case, fluoride promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel that helps to reverse and prevent cavities.
How is fluoride absorbed in your child’s body? The research has found that almost 80% or more of orally consumed fluoride is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract of your child. In young adults, approximately 50% of this mineral is retained and 99% of fluoride is stored in teeth and bones. The remaining 50% is removed from the body through urine. On the other hand, in children, 80% of fluoride is retained because they require this mineral in large amounts for proper strength and development of their teeth and bones. The fluoride status in children is assessed in their hair, bones, plasma, nails, and saliva. (1)
Why Do Children Need Fluoride?
Fluoride is essential for your child to maintain their dental health. This mineral is naturally found in the environment and is also added to drinking water to prevent tooth damage. According to the United States Public Health Service, it is compulsory to add 0.7 mg/L of fluoride in the drinking water to maintain the dental health of both adults and children. (4)
Scientific research has found that fluoride helps to avoid teeth damage in two ways:
- Tooth mineralization
- Inhibiting bacterial overgrowth in the mouth
Tooth Mineralization: Mineralization is the tooth hardening process that prevents the demineralization (damage) of teeth in children. Studies have depicted that fluoride promotes fluorapatite mineralization and prevents damage to the teeth caused by bacteria, foods and beverages. Interestingly, fluorapatite is not a natural compound but cannot cause damage to your child’s teeth. (5)
Inhibiting bacterial overgrowth in the mouth: A recent study has demonstrated that fluoride is effective in reducing the bacterial overgrowth in your child’s mouth, which prevents tooth damage. This is because the fluoride element is responsible for lowering the pH in the mouth and creating a more acidic oral environment, which is less favorable for bacterial growth.
Another study has shown that fluoride is effective in inhibiting the growth of three main types of oral bacteria, including Porphyromonas gingivalis, Streptococcus mutans, and Streptococcus sanguinis, which ultimately supports gum and teeth damage in children. (5)
Promotes bone health: Current research has shown that large doses of fluoride play a promising role in initiating the process of bone formation by the stimulation of osteoblasts (bone cells). This mineral also enhances bone formation in the trabecular bone as compared to cortical bone and promotes bone density in spinal bone. Excessive exposure to fluoride, however, can result in skeletal fluorosis in adults that includes osteomalacia, osteoporosis, and osteopenia.
One study has shown that fluoride is good in enhancing bone mineral density in kids but mega doses can make your child’s bones more brittle. So, try to give an adequate dose of this mineral to your child without great excess to prevent its side effects.
Another study has depicted that people suffering from osteoporosis who consumed 10 mg of fluoride daily observed a significant improvement in their bone mineral density than those who did not. (6)
What Is Fluoride Deficiency?
Fluoride deficiency is a condition in which your child’s body does not have an adequate amount of this mineral. Fluoride is a micro-element found in your kid’s body, mostly in their teeth and bones in the form of calcium fluoride. It is incorporated in the teeth and hardens the tooth enamel, creating resistance to harmful bacteria in the mouth. The most available form of this mineral is fluorine which is mostly present in tea. And almost 50% of fluoride is removed from the human body within 24 hours after absorption. (7)
Common causes of fluoride deficiency in children include:
- Inadequate dietary intake of fluoride
- Poor oral hygiene
When your child does not have adequate fluoride, it enhances the risk of dental cavities because fluoride is great at preventing tooth decay as well as promoting remineralization and the repair of teeth when damage is at its initial stages.
Some common signs and symptoms of fluoride deficiency in children include:
- Cavities due to weakened enamel
- Brittle and weak bones
- Increased tooth decay
Cavities due to weakened enamel: A lack of this trace mineral can make your child’s tooth enamel (outer layer of the tooth) weak and prone to damage. Deficiency promotes plaque formation, and the acids present in the plaque can lead to demineralization which can result in the formation of tiny pores in the enamel. This process is the first step of cavities in children. Research has shown that when the enamel area becomes damaged, the acid and bacteria reach the deeper layers of your child’s teeth and can result in problematic cavities. Therefore, fluoride is an excellent cavity prevention for kids and adults alike, and a lack of fluoride can contribute to poor dental health and expensive dental bills. (8)
Brittle and weak bones: Your child needs fluoride to maintain bone health in addition to teeth health. If your child is deficient in fluoride, then he is also at higher risk of weak and brittle bones. Studies have shown that older adults who are deficient in fluoride are also more likely to get fractures. (7)
Increased tooth decay: The clearest sign of fluoride deficiency in children is an increase in tooth decay. This is a red flag because bacteria present in plaque collect on your child’s teeth. Plaque utilizes carbohydrates and sugars to make acids, which wear away the enamel of your child’s teeth. Other possible causes of cavities in children include poor oral hygiene and excessive intake of sugars. (7)
How Much Fluoride Does Your Kid Need per Day?
Dosing recommendations for fluoride are given in the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. DRI is the optimal amount of nutrients, which a person needs per day. (1)
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this mineral is provided in milligrams (mg) below.
|Age||Recommended daily amount in milligrams (mg)|
|0-6 months||0.01 mg|
|7-`1 months||0.5 mg|
|1-3 years||0.7 mg|
|4-8 years||1 mg|
|9-13 years||2 mg|
|14-18 years||3 mg|
|19+ years||4 mg|
Should You Give Fluoride Supplements to Your Kids?
It is suggested that you fulfill the fluoride needs of your child primarily through diet and local drinking water, if possible. According to dentists, if there is insufficient fluoride in your local drinking water then you can give fluoride supplements to your child. Health experts also recommend fluoride supplements to children at the age of 6 months to prevent tooth eruption and cavities. (10)
Foods that Are Rich in Fluoride
Brewed tea contains the highest concentration of fluoride because plants get this mineral from the soil. The level of fluoride in brewed tea ranges from 0.3 to 6.5 mg/L when it is prepared from distilled water. Interestingly, mother’s milk is low in this mineral even if mothers consume fluoridated water. Otherwise, only a small amount of fluoride is found in natural foods. Here are some foods that contain fluoride: (1)
|Food||Serving size||Milligrams (mg) per serving|
|Brewed tea||1 cup||1.5 mg|
|Bottled water with fluoride||
|Canned shrimp||3 oz||0.17 mg|
|Cooked oatmeal||1/2 cup||0.08 mg|
|Raisins||1/4 cup||0.08 mg|
|Grapefruit juice||3/4 cup||0.08 mg|
|Baked potatoes||1 medium||0.08 mg|
|Cooked rice||1/2 cup||0.04 mg|
Risks and Side Effects of Fluoride
Excessive intake of fluoride supplements can lead to several complications in children, including bone fracture and kidney damage. Research has depicted that too much fluoride exposure can lead to the development of fluorosis, which can onset at any age and lead to a formation of white streaks and white spots on your child’s teeth. You can prevent this condition by only using recommended amounts of fluoride daily and keeping your child from brushing their teeth or using mouthwash excessively.
Another possible side effect of taking mega doses of fluoride is bone fragility. Skeletal fluorosis is a condition that results in stiffening and hardening of the body’s joints. The research has shown that skeletal fluorosis also enhances the chance of bone fractures in both adults and children. (9)
Fluoride is a trace mineral that is essential for the proper bone and dental health of your child. It is naturally present in drinking water and several foods and is also available in the form of supplements, including dental products like toothpaste and mouthwash. This mineral plays an important role in the mineralization of teeth in children and prevents the risk of tooth decay. In addition to teeth, this mineral also supports proper bone formation in kids. On the other hand, a deficiency of this mineral can result in weakened enamel, fragile bones, and bone fractures in kids. According to dentists, if your local water is deficient in fluoride you can opt for either fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouthwashes or supplements to fulfill your child’s fluoride needs.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.