Fluoride Action Network


Dental fluorosis may be associated with the inappropriate use of fluoride dentifrices and/or dietary fluoride supplements by young children, especially for those who consume optimally fluoridated water. Studies to date have used retrospective designs that rely on anamnestic responses of adults to determine fluoride exposures in their children. The 1986 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) collected information on current use of fluoride-containing dental products (dentifrices, drops, tablets, and mouthrinses) by all household members during home interviews. This report contains information obtained from adults for 1,996 children younger than two years of age. Nearly half of the children used fluoride dentifrices or dietary fluoride supplements. Eleven percent of the children younger than one year of age and nearly 60 percent of children between one and two years of age reportedly used a fluoride toothpaste. Dietary fluoride supplements were used about equally in these age groups (about 16%). The use of a fluoride dentifrice was similar across racial-ethnic groups, but the use of dietary fluoride supplements was less among blacks and Hispanics. A significantly higher proportion of children whose respondent knew the purpose of water fluoridation used some type of fluoride product. Because young children tend to swallow dentifrices, the findings of this study suggest the need for educational programs targeted to parents and health care providers regarding the appropriate use of fluorides and the risk of fluorosis when they are used inappropriately.