Water Keeps Teeth Healthy
For structurally stronger, more decay-resistant teeth, kids need fluoride. "It's critical to have fluoride in the water through the age of 14," says Dr. Cynthia Sherwood, DDS, a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry in Independence, Kansas. "Fluoride strengthens permanent teeth that are forming under the gum," says Sherwood. (By the time teeth have erupted, fluoride's primary job of strengthening teeth from the inside out is over.)
Generally, if your tap water comes from a public water supply, it's adequately fluoridated. But if you have well water, drink primarily bottled water that's not fluoridated, or have a water filter on your kitchen faucet (which can remove heavy metals and fluoride from public water), talk with your pediatrician or your child's dentist about having your child take a daily fluoride supplement or fluoride combination multivitamin, advises Sherwood. Fluoride supplements are available in liquid form for infants and toddlers and chewable tablets for older kids, says Sherwood.