Here at Dentistry for Children & Adolescents, it’s not uncommon for us to have families visit us that do not use a municipal water source in their home. Well water use is very common, and generally proven safe if the source is tested properly.
However, well water does not contain fluoride. Thus, when parents come in for a check up with their children, the question is often asked: “Should we be using fluoride supplements?”
That answer is a yes, but precautions should be taken.
Fluoride is introduced into community water for a reason— it works! It is proven to reduce tooth decay among communities by 20 to 40%. So it’s definitely helpful, and if you’re not using a municipal water source then you and your children’s dental health is at risk. Using fluoridated toothpaste is a common and effective topical solution to this problem.
Precautions should be taken if your child is prone to swallowing toothpaste or using too much (no more than a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste is required for a single use). Using too much fluoride can cause permanent white staining on teeth. Very rarely, fluoride toxicity can occur when large amounts of fluoride are ingested during a short period of time. Kids under the age of six account for more than 80% of reports of suspected overuse. Although outcomes are generally not serious, fluoride toxicity sends several hundred children to emergency rooms each year.
Symptoms of fluoride toxicity may include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, increased salivation, or increased thirst. Symptoms begin 30 minutes after ingestion and can last up to 24 hours. If you suspect your child may have eaten a substantial amount of a fluoridated product or supplement, call the poison control center or 911.
Families that drink a lot of bottled water may want to investigate the use of supplemental fluoride as well. The amount of fluoride in most bottled water is less than 0.3 parts per million, but some contain fluoride in the optimum range of 0.7 – 1.2 ppm. Current FDA regulations require that fluoride be listed on the label only if the bottler adds fluoride during processing.
So, for families with well water, how much fluoride do your children need per day?
For any child under the age of six months, none.
For a child between the ages of six months and three-years old, 0.25 milligrams per day is effective.
If your child is between three and six years old, 0.50 milligrams per day is advisable, and if they are between the ages of six and 16 years, aim for 1 milligram per day.
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to become a part of your family’s plan for keeping your smiles bright and future’s brighter! For now, feel free to download our FREE eBook on beverages to watch out for and dental care. It will help educate you and your family on the perils of what may be hiding in your own home.