A new report says that parents should use toothpastes that contain fluoride with a minimum concentration of 1,000 parts per million (ppm) to prevent tooth decay in their children, according to ScienceDaily. In a second, related study, the authors suggest that parents concerned about the risk of fluorosis should consult their dentist to discuss the benefits and risks.

"It is very confusing for parents to know how to strike the right balance, which isn’t helped by the fact that different companies use different concentrations of fluoride in their toothpastes aimed at children,” said author Anne-Marie Glenny, DDS.

"From a public health point of view, the risk of tooth decay and its consequences, such as pain and extractions, is greater than the small risk of fluorosis. Children would have to swallow a lot of toothpaste over a long period of time to get the severe brown mottling on the teeth, as opposed to the more typical mild white patches.”

The new report examined the effect of different children’s toothpastes (whose fluoride concentration ranges from 100 ppm to 1,400 ppm) on the oral health of 73,000 children worldwide. Results showed that those toothpastes with fluoride concentrations less than 1,000 ppm were only as effective as nonfluoride toothpastes at preventing tooth decay.

"For children that are considered to be at a high risk of tooth decay by their dentist, the benefit to health of preventing decay is likely to outweigh the risk of fluorosis. In such cases, careful brushing of their children’s teeth by parents with a small amount of toothpaste containing higher levels of fluoride would be beneficial. If in any doubt, we would advise parents to speak to their family dentist," said Glenny.