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J Public Health Dent. 1999 Fall;59(4):269-74.

The case for eliminating the use of dietary fluoride supplements for young children.

Author information

1
Program in Dental Public Health, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-2029, USA. bburt@umich.edu

Abstract

Fluoride supplements have been used for years to prevent dental caries; nevertheless, there are three reasons why their use is inappropriate today among infants and young children in the United States. Evidence for the efficacy of fluoride supplements when used from birth or soon after is weak, supplements are a risk factor for dental fluorosis, and fluoride has little preeruptive effect in caries prevention. While there are many reports on the caries-preventive efficacy of supplements, few meet standards for acceptability as clinical trials, and those that do have tested chewable tablets or lozenges under supervision in school-aged children. North American children today are exposed to fluoride from many sources--drinking water, toothpaste, gels, rinses, and in processed foods and beverages. The additional cariostatic benefits that accrue from using supplements are marginal at best, while there is strong risk of fluorosis when young children use supplements. Available evidence suggests that the public is more aware of the milder forms of fluorosis than was previously thought; thus, it is prudent for caries-preventive policies to aim to maximizing caries reductions while minimizing the risk of fluorosis. It is therefore concluded that the risks of using supplements in infants and young children outweigh the benefits. Because alternative forms of fluoride for high-risk individuals exist, fluoride supplements should no longer be used for young children in North America.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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