The Canadian Dental Association supports the appropriate use of fluorides in the prevention of dental caries as one of the most successful preventive health measures in the history of health care. The availability of fluorides from a variety of sources, however, is a current reality which the practising dentist needs to take into account in dealing with patients. This is particularly true of children under the age of six, where exposure to more fluoride than is required simply to prevent dental caries can cause dental fluorosis. There is no evidence of any health problems being created by such exposure, but it is prudent to attempt to limit exposure to the optimal levels required for continuing dental caries protection. Current levels of fluoride intake from all sources are difficult to establish for any given area, but the dentist should consider general intake to the extent possible in recommending fluoride supplementation.

The following suggestions are consistent with these principles:

1. Fluoride supplements are only required for high dental caries risk patients and may be unnecessary if the patient is receiving adequate fluoride from other sources.

2. Before prescribing fluoride supplements, a thorough clinical examination, dental caries risk assessment and informed consent with patients/caregivers are required.

3. The Canadian Consensus Conference on the Appropriate Use of Fluoride Supplements for the Prevention of Dental Caries in Children, held in November 1997 suggested that high caries risk individuals or groups may include those who do not brush their teeth (or have them brushed) with a fluoridated dentifrice twice a day or those who are assessed as susceptible to high caries activity because of community or family history, etc.

4. The estimation of fluoride exposure from all sources should include use of fluoridated dentifrice and all home and child care water sources. Dentists should be aware of the average fluoride exposure in their area. The possible impact of fluoride reducing factors within the home such as the use of unfluoridated bottled water of some reverse osmosis devices should be taken into account.

5. Lozenges or chewable tablets are the preferred forms of fluoride supplementation. Drops may be required for individual patients with special needs.

6. The use of fluoride supplements before the eruption of the first permanent tooth is generally not recommended. When, on an individual basis, the benefit of supplemental fluoride outweighs the risk of dental fluorosis, practitioners may elect to use these supplements at appropriate dosages on younger children. In doing so, the total daily fluoride intake from all sources should not exceed 0.05-0.07 mg F / kg body weight in order to minimize the risk of dental fluorosis.

7. Following the eruption of the first permanent tooth and the associated decrease in the risk of dental fluorosis at this stage of development, fluoride supplements in the form of lozenges or chewable tablets may be used to deliver an intra-oral fluoride dose. A lozenge or chewable tablet containing 1 mg fluoride delivers the same amount of fluoride intra-orally as brushing with an average load (1 gm) of a 1000 ppm fluoride dentifrice.

Approved by Resolution 2000.06

Canadian Dental Association Board of Governors

March, 2000