Is Fluoride Necessary for Toddlers?

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Any parent will know how hard it is to get a toddler to take their fluoride supplements.  If you live in an area with fluoridated water, this is not a problem for you, but others need to give their toddlers fluoride supplements daily.

Many parents must wonder, is all this trouble of getting kids to take fluoride worth it? Is fluoride necessary for toddlers? Read on to find out.  

What is Fluoride?

Many people believe that fluoride is a synthetic chemical additive, but that is not true.  Fluoride is actually a naturally occuring mineral.  It can be found in nature such as plants, rocks and even the earth’s crust.  

Fluoride is created from the element fluorine.  When fluorine is negatively charged and meets sodium, a positively charged ion, fluoride is made. 

Back in the 1930’s researchers found that people who drank water from naturally fluoridated sources had less tooth decay than those who drank non fluoridated water. Since then, many places have added fluoride to their water supply in order to strengthen the teeth of their residents. 

Fluoride is also added to many dental products.  Toothpaste and mouthwash commonly contain fluoride. Fluoride supplements are available for people to live in an area without fluoridated water. Dentists also perform fluoride treatments for patients by placing  gel, foam, or varnish on the teeth.  

How Does Fluoride Work?

Fluoride works by protecting your tooth enamel from plaque and sugar.  When fluoride is in your enamel, it combines with calcium and phosphate to create fluorapatite.  This protects your teeth and prevents cavities from forming.  

When toddlers take fluoride it helps to strengthen their developing teeth. For adults, fluoride helps to remineralize teeth and can even reverse early signs of tooth decay.  

Benefits of Fluoride

As you can tell by now, there are several benefits of using fluoride. 

  • Strengthen tooth enamel
  • Reverse early signs of tooth decay
  • Prevent bacteria growth in the mouth
  • Prolongs the life of baby teeth
  • Slows the growth of cavities
  • Prevents gum disease

Risks of Fluoride

Despite the many benefits of fluoride, there are also some risks. These are only risks if fluoride is taken at very high doses.  

Dental fluorosis is caused when too much fluoride is taken at a young age.  This creates white spots on the surface of the teeth. Dental fluorosis doesn’t cause any other harm, but it is difficult to remove the white spots. 

Long term exposure to high levels of fluoride can cause skeletal fluorosis.  This condition is rare in the US, and seen more in areas with large geographic fluoride deposits. In that case, the deposits contaminate the water source, unknowingly causing skeletal fluorosis.  

Symptoms of skeletal fluorosis are stiffness and joint pain.  Advanced cases of skeletal fluorosis may also experience bone problems and calcification of ligaments. 

Is Fluoride Safe?

With these risks, you may now be wondering, is fluoride safe?  Some cities in the US add small amounts of fluoride to their drinking water.  There has not been any evidence that drinking fluoridated water is unsafe or has caused health problems.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association both agree that fluoride is safe for babies, toddlers, and children and effective at preventing tooth decay.  Fluoride toothpaste is also safe for toddlers, with parental supervision.  

Remember, fluoride is a mineral, not a synthetic chemical.  Similar to how vitamin D is added to milk or iodine is added to salt, fluoride is a nutrient that helps with oral health.  

Is Fluoride Necessary for Toddlers?

Now that we’ve established that fluoride is both beneficial and safe, is fluoride necessary for toddlers?  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that yes, fluoride is necessary for toddlers and children from 6 months to 16 years of age.  

They can receive fluoride through fluoridated drinking water or fluoride supplements. Fluoride is necessary for toddlers because it helps to strengthen their developing teeth and also protect their teeth from cavities. 


Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that protects your tooth enamel from plaque and sugar.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that fluoride is necessary for toddlers and children from 6 months to 16 years of age.