Fluoride helps make teeth strong and prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and protects against decay.
In Australia, most capital cities have optimal amounts of fluoride added to tap water. Studies have positively demonstrated over long periods of time the benefit to teeth of having fluoride in water. (Evans RW, Hsiau AC, Dennison PJ, Patterson A, Jalaludin B.)
Water fluoridation in the Blue Mountains reduces risk of dental decay. (Aust Dent J. 2009 Dec;54(4):368-73.)(Arora, A., Evans, R. Dental caries in children: a comparison of one non-fluoridated and two fluoridated communities in NSW. New South Wales Public Health Bulletin.2010; 21:257-262. [Abstract])
It is important to note that many children are now drinking bottled water, which most do not contain fluoride. While some bottled water naturally contains fluoride, it is usually not enough to offer sufficient protection. Some home water filters also remove fluoride from tap water.
The choice of toothpaste is also important for children. Make sure you choose low fluoride toothpastes specifically for children. Too much fluoride during tooth development can cause mild white marks or mottling of permanent teeth (enamel fluorosis). There are other causes of discolored or malformed enamel such as childhood malnutrition, chronic illness, trauma, long term use of some medications or radiation therapy.