AAP Recommends Fluoride to Prevent Dental Caries
Dental caries – or tooth decay — is the most common chronic disease in children in the U.S., a silent disease that disproportionally affects poor, young, and minority populations. In a new clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) “Fluoride Use in Caries Prevention in the Primary Care Setting,” published online Aug. 25 in the September 2014 Pediatrics, the AAP states that fluoride is effective for cavity prevention in children. The AAP is issuing the following new recommendations:
- Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for all children starting at tooth eruption, regardless of caries risk.
- A smear (the size of a grain of rice) of toothpaste should be used up to age 3. After age 3, a pea-sized amount may be used. Parents should dispense toothpaste for young children and supervise and assist with brushing.
- Fluoride varnish is recommended in the primary care setting every 3–6 months starting at tooth emergence.
- Over-the counter fluoride rinse is not recommended for children younger than 6 years due to risk of swallowing higher-than-recommended levels of fluoride.
Because fluoride is available in many sources, including food and tap water, and may be administered at home and professionally applied, pediatricians should be aware of the risks and benefits of various fluoride modalities to appropriately advise families to achieve maximum protection against dental caries, and to help counsel patients about proper oral health.