Q & A for parents / carers on fluoride

Water fluoridation has been very effective in improving the oral health of the Irish population and it does not harm your health.

There are a number of recommendations for parents of young children around the use of toothpaste and the preparation of bottled feeds. In order to answer any queries you may have see 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, as they are unable to spit out toothpaste on their own. 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 than 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. It is recommended 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: Fluoridated drinking water is safe for use in preparing infant formula. Where it is not possible to use boiled tap water, bottled water may be used instead. Bottled water is not sterile, and should be brought to the boil before use in preparing powdered infant formula feeds. It is best not to use bottled water labelled as ‘Natural Mineral Water’ as it can have higher levels of sodium and other minerals. It can be used if no other water is available, for as short a time as possible, as it is important to keep babies hydrated.

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

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