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Children should use toothpaste with higher flouride concentrations. (DTI/Photo Kzenon)
Feb 3, 2010 | News Europe

Low fluoride toothpaste no good for children

by Lisa Townshend, DT UK

LONDON, UK: Children’s toothpaste that contains low concentrations of fluoride fails to effectively combat tooth decay. For optimal prevention of cavities in children over age six, toothpastes should contain at least 1,000 parts per million of fluoride, according to a study carried out by the University of Manchester School of Dentistry. Toothpaste containing fluoride concentrations of less than this is as ineffective as toothpaste with no fluoride all.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, examined results from 79 controlled clinical studies on 73,000 children and found
that the benefits of fluoride are reduced for low fluoride toothpastes.

“Toothpastes with lower fluoride levels, in the 440 to 550 range, give results that are no better than the results seen with toothpaste that does not contain fluoride,” said co-authors Prof.
Helen Worthington and Dr Anne-Marie Glenny.

The study also found that brushing children’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste before the age of 12 months could lead to an increased risk of developing mild fluorosis. Children’s toothpastes currently range from 100 parts per million to 1,400 parts per million.

“From a public health point of view, the risk of tooth decay and its consequences, such as pain and extractions, is greater than the small risk of fluorosis. Children would have to swallow a lot of toothpaste over a long period of time to get the severe brown mottling on the teeth, as opposed to the more typical mild white patches,” Dr Glenny said.

She added that for children considered to be at a high risk of tooth decay by their dentist, the benefit to oral health is likely to outweigh the risk of fluorosis. In such cases, careful brushing of children’s teeth with a small amount of toothpaste containing higher levels of fluoride would be beneficial.

“If in any doubt, we would advise parents to speak to their family dentist,” Dr Glenny said.

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