Don't brush it under the carpet

Don't brush it under the carpet

Dr Rohan Virani explores the dark side of children using fluoridated toothpastes


Dental care is an important health consideration that should not be overlooked in children. A good rule of thumb is to start your children on a regular brushing routine. While brushing at least twice a day is recommended for proper dental care, the ingredients present in conventional toothpastes stir a little more controversy. The health risks associated with fluoride make it one of the most contentious ingredients present in conventional toothpastes. As it’s not unusual for children to use fluoridated adult toothpastes, and the level of safety of fluoride is low, OTC products and dentifrices that contain fluoride should be used according to the recommendation.

Health implications 

Fluoride accumulates in the human body over time. While adults retain around 36% of fluoride, children retain approximately 50% of it. About 90% of fluoride is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract after consumption and once this toxic substance is absorbed, it is transported directly into the bloodstream. 


The potential risks associated with fluoride use include development of fluorosis, which may occur when excess levels of fluoride are ingested by children during tooth development. Even a pea-sized portion that weighs approximately 0.75 g contains about 0.4 mg of fluoride. Thus, depending on which regimen is used, brushing twice a day delivers approximately 0.8 to 2.0 mg of fluoride. If swallowed, the amount of this harmful substance could lead to fluorosis. Using fluoride-free toothpaste with herbal ingredients is simply one part of the equation.

(The author is a dentist)