Fluoride and a 3 Year Old

Updated on March 26, 2010
R.H. asks from Ebensburg, PA
13 answers

I took my daughter to the dentist for her regular check up and the told me that I should not be using any toothpaste when I am brushing her teeth because it can actually weaken them. I think that our town has fluoride but I'm not sure because we live right on the border between a place that does and a place that doesn't. What's the deal?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

i have never heard of such a thing. My dentist tells me to help my child brush and i own a daycare where the children brush their teeth and have a dentist come to talk about care of teeth. I would ? it more

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answers from Charlotte on

Hi R.,

You'll have to decide for yourself whether you agree with Anne-Marie about flouride being a toxin. I don't believe that about flouride, and I'm very grateful that my children have good teeth compared to mine, thanks to flouride supplements. My generation grew up without flouride in the water and even with good brushing habits, we have mouthfuls of fillings. Dentists have had to branch out into doing more cosmetic dentistry because the use of fluoride has changed their business so much - with flouride in the water or supplements given to kids while their teeth are developing, they don't see cavities nearly as much. Sealants have helped a lot too, so don't forget to ask about those.

If you are able to teach your child to spit, then she probably isn't swallowing the toothpaste. That may be what your doctor is worried about. (Swallowing toothpaste isn't good for you - that's different than getting flouride in water or by supplement.) Enquire from both the doc and the city about your water supply. If you use bottled water in your home, that is an issue too, because there is no fluoride in that kind of water.

Good luck,

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answers from Scranton on

Do you have public water? If you do, call the phone number on your bill and ask if there is fluoride in your water. We have public water and recieve the results of water testing done on your water once a year, they send it to all their 'customers.' I would check with the American Dental Association for how much fluorides is appropriate for 3 year olds. Fluoride is funny, the right amount strengthens teeth, too much makes them weak and brittle; this is true of fluoride comsumption at any age.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Hi R.,
Have you ever noticed on toothpaste tubes that there is a warning about it being toxic? Do not swallow. Call poison control, etc. Anne-Marie is right. Flouride is a toxic. It is a run-off from factory waste. We do not use flouride in our house. Thankfully, we are on well-water so we don't have it in our water either. Studies show that there is not any measurable difference in people who use flouride and those who don't. There is no science behind flouride. But, there is money behind it. Do a google search and see what you find. I know, it goes against everything we have been taught very carefully by the system. But, research before you give this to your daughter. In Europe they do not flouridate their water because they believe that people should have a choice about what they ingest. Brilliant idea. Too bad we Americans can't figure out these basic things.

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answers from Pocatello on

Call the city and find out if your house actually has fluoridated water coming to it or not, they should be able to tell you. If not then you can get fluoride tablets to supplement her fluoride intake. Ask your dentist about that because if the water you use is not fluoridated then she and the rest of the family will be running into teeth trouble if you are not getting some kind of supplement. When she is old enough, you can buy a product called ACT fluoride rinse, it comes in a few kids flavors like bubblegum and watermelon, check at the pharmacy. I lived in a place that did not have fluoridated water and thats what we used, it helped alot, use it everyday.

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answers from St. Cloud on

Fluoride is a toxin and should not be ingested. Smart cities around the country are fighting to get it out of the water system.
Fluoride is not essential. My mom refused to give us flouride in any form, making dentists MAD but at 30 years old I have had ONE cavitiy and my sister has had 3. My brother and sister (older) who grew up on fluoride and still use fluoride toothpaste, have mouths full of cavities.

Your dentist is right, you don't actually need toothpaste, it's the brushing action that cleans. We brush and floss our kids teeth daily and use non fluoridated toothpaste. Too much fluoride can cause fluorosis (sp?) which is unsightly PERMANENT white streaks on the teeth.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

If you aren't clear about what your dentist was saying, you should call back and ask for an explanation. Excess fluoride can cause fluorinosis (I have it, no big deal) but if you are only giving her a pea-sized amount and she spits most of it, it shouldn't be a problem.

As to the toxicity of fluoride, it is important to remember that ALL substances (even water) are toxic. Toxicologists say "the dose makes the poison." Some substances very small amounts are toxic; some substances very large amounts are toxic. Fluoride, in the levels of water treatment plants, have been shown time and time again to be not only safe but beneficial. There will always be people who don't believe this (like there will always be people who believe that thimerosal causes autism) but there is no credible evidence to support that position.

So I'd call your dentist back and get some clarity.

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answers from Minneapolis on

If its the flouride that is concerning you, use toothpaste without flouride. It's 'safer' for you daughter to swallow. In our house, we all use toothpaste without flouride and its the same price as the 'regular' stuff.



answers from New York on

Yes, very important to find out if your water has flouride. Do you have a well or town water? Most town do put flouride in the water. I just started giving my son multivitamins with flouride prescribed by the doctor. I am not sure why you wouldn't use toothpaste unless there is a concern about too much flouride.


answers from Allentown on

Hi, R.:
Get a second opinion.
Good luck. D.



answers from Harrisburg on

I've not heard that for a 3 year old, or any child that it'll weaken their teeth. Over the years we were always told to use just a smear of paste as they'll swallow it at age 3. Too early to learn to spit well.

As for your water, call your city/town/township/county and ask where your water comes from and if it has flouride. If they don't know they will be able to direct you to who does know. If you cannot get an answer, assume that you do not have flouride and use just a smear of paste. They do have flouride drops that I used with my 23 year old as a baby because we had well water. Back then it stained but I'm assuming they make it better now that doesn't stain and doesn't taste horrid, lol.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

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answers from New York on

There are kids toothpastes with no fluoride but they're basically nothing more than flavored goop - not necessary.

Although if your daughter insists on toothpaste this may be better than grownup toothpaste.

Does she take a multi-vitamin? Check that for fluoride, too.



answers from Tulsa on

I have a one soap box and this is it. Children should see Pediatric Dentists.

If your child did not see a Pediatric Dentist then you should find one and make an appointment. Family dentists are nice dentists. They have a degree and treat a variety of tooth issues. But a Pediatric Dentist is a specialist in dental care of babies, toddler, and children. Their teeth are different than ours. They have special needs and they should get the opportunity to have the best possible care, even when their adult teeth start coming in it's worth it to keep them seeing the Pediatric Dentist.

We found a wonderful Doc in OKC and drive nearly 125 miles one way twice a year to go to him. I will not take these kids to anyone else until he tells me they are just too old.

As for decay and other issues, it is hardly what you do to your teeth that makes them the way they are. It is mostly genetics. If you gave your children weak enamel they are going to have cavities. If they got strong enamel they probably won't have many, if any at all. Good dental care is still important though for all over jaw bone health (something can get stuck beside the tooth and cause an infection), gum health, and bad breath control. The reason for using any kind of paste is so that you don't have that yucky goo off your tongue and teeth in your mouth brushing it around. It is simply for taste and making the experience more pleasant.

One time I was with a young man who had developmental disabilities and his parents had taken him to just about every dentist in town trying to get ONE doc to tell their son he had to brush his teeth or they would rot out. He had extremely strong enamel and the doc would just look at the parents and say stuff like "If he never brushes his teeth again he still won't get a cavity".

An example of what I'm saying about Pediatric Dentist:
We take the kids to a Pediatric Dentist, they usually put kids out to do any work, it's easier on the kids and the work gets done in just a few minutes.

My granddaughter broke off her front tooth, we took her to see Dr. Lee, it showed she had some other cavities too and he scheduled her tooth work the next few days. We showed up at the hospital and went in the surgery room about 1pm, she was out by 2 and woke up and had a great day. Never had any problems with the cap or the filled teeth, he also uses white caps and fillings.

My BFF has a daughter (F) 3 months older than my granddaughter. She got a cavity in her front tooth and they decided to go to a regular family dentist to have it filled. They had to nearly hold her down to get the shots and then when he went to drill in her mouth...oh my stars, that child is going to have a complex. Then a week later the filling came out, anouther round in the chair, then a month later that filling came out, then another round in the chair, the fourth time he said let's just pull it out. That was a year ago and she still doesn't have a front tooth, allthough I think a new tooth is just about to come in. The moral of this story is, she could have seen a Pediatric dentist and never had to sit in that chair, or be held down, because she would have been asleep. Would it have come out anyway, who knows, I think the Pediatric Dentist was able to do the better work because my granddaughter (K) was asleep and not fighting, he was able to take his time and do it right.

As for flouride? They still use it in the Pediatric Dentists office during cleaning.

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