Q & A for parents / carers on fluoride

Forum on Fluoridation

The Forum on Fluoridation published its report on 10 September 2002. The Forum concluded that water fluoridation has been very effective in improving the dental health of the Irish population and that it does not harm your health.

A number of the Forum's recommendations are for parents of young children and are concerned with the use of toothpaste and the preparation of bottled feeds. In order to answer any queries you may have the Forum has drawn up the following list of questions and answers.

Question 1. Should my family continue to use fluoride toothpaste?

Answer: Yes. Fluoridated water and fluoride toothpaste work together to prevent tooth decay. If you have a child under 2 years of age clean his / her teeth with a toothbrush and water only. Talk to your dentist if you feel your child's teeth need any extra cleaning.

If your children are between 2 and 7 years please supervise them when they brush their teeth. Allow them to use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and make sure that they do not swallow large amounts of toothpaste. This advice is given to prevent your children developing white stains on their teeth, which may happen when toothpaste is swallowed.

Question 2. My son is under 2 years and I have brushed his teeth with fluoride toothpaste for the last few months. Have I harmed him?

Answer: In brushing your son's teeth at this age you are protecting his baby teeth from decay. It is unlikely that he has swallowed large amounts of toothpaste as it was you rather that the child himself who did the brushing. Please continue to brush his teeth but only with water.

Question 3. Should I use fluoridated water to make up my baby's feeds?

Answer: Yes. The Forum recommends that parents continue to prepare baby feeds with boiled tap water and to follow the manufacturers' instructions.

Question 4. Is it okay to use bottled water to make up feeds?

Answer: The Forum recommends that you do not use bottled water to make up your baby's feeds. Bottled water on sale in Ireland may contain salt which is not recommended for babies.

Question 5. Does "ready-to-feed formula" contain fluoride?

Answer: "Ready-to-feed formula" contains very little if any fluoride.

Question 6: I sometimes use bottled water to make up feeds for my baby. Have I harmed my child?

Answer: Babies do not need added salt in any of their foods or drinks. However, a child who is well and feeding normally will be able to tolerate the salt in bottled water on an occasional basis without any ill effects. At present in Ireland the labels on bottled water do not show whether or not they are safe to use for making up baby food and until the labels show this information you are advised to continue to use boiled tap water.