The Role of Fluoride During Pregnancy

Fluoride during pregnancy is necessary in order to prevent oral problems in the mother and for the correct formation of the baby's bones and teeth. However, too much fluoride can be a risk. Here, we'll you the best way to incorporate this element during pregnancy.
The Role of Fluoride During Pregnancy

Last update: 07 September, 2021

The use of fluoride during pregnancy is a subject that generated scientific debate some time ago This is because a study suggested that an excess of this mineral in pregnant women contributed to lower IQ in their children. Is this enough reason to advise against it?

The truth is that fluoride’s one of the best allies in the prevention of oral problems such as cavities. And this applies especially to pregnant women who run a higher risk of suffering from dental diseases.

In any case, there are two sources of fluoride during pregnancy: Natural and artificial. Herein lies one of the differences that you must consider in order to avoid an excess dose, which could ultimately be harmful.

In the following article, you’ll find out why fluoride’s important during pregnancy and what the best way to ingest it is. You’ll see that, with the help of professional recommendations, you can protect your own health and that of your baby.

What is fluoride for during pregnancy?

A pregnancy woman looking in the mirror while she brushes her teeth.

Fluoride’s an essential mineral for the formation of bones and teeth, as well as for their protection once they form. Therefore, its presence is essential, in adequate amounts, from the time we’re fetuses until we become adults.

Scientists have studied its protective effect against cavities for a long time. Today, it’s clear that it’s capable of preventing the onset of this disease. And not only for the mother but also for the fetus. And, what’s more, this protection extends to the first years of life outside the womb.

As for pregnant women, a particular situation arises in the first trimester. This is when nausea may prevent tooth brushing. As a result, this reduces oral hygiene and favors bacterial colonization and the accumulation of food debris.

In this context, fluoride can function as an effective barrier to reduce the risk of cavities. Therefore, experts suggest a diet rich in foods containing fluoride, as well as the intake of fluoride-fortified water.

Similarly, fluoride’s capable of crossing the placental barrier to reach the fetus. In the unborn baby’s tiny body, it participates in the formation of teeth. Later, once birth takes place, it takes part in the postnatal evolution of these dental elements.

The problem of fluoride supplementation during pregnancy

Almost no professional denies the benefits of fluoride in pregnancy when taken in a natural way. That is, taking it from food products and through fortified water, even.

But experts have debated the effect of induced fluoroprophylaxis with artificial supplements. In other words, many have questioned whether it’s true that prescribing fluoride tablets or pills is beneficial for the mother or the fetus.

The available scientific reviews suggest that this is a futile effort. Research has revealed no significant differences in the prevalence of cavities among children of mothers who took fluoride pills versus those whose mothers didn’t.

To this, we must add the risk of fluorosis. This is a situation in which the body suffers from an excess of fluoride. If it happens during gestation, the mother may have a decreased function of the thyroid gland.

The fetus, in the face of fluorosis, would experience an interruption in the normal production of neurotransmitters, which are the chemical substances that connect neurons. The end result would be a delay in the development of the central nervous system, in addition to possible damage to the teeth that are forming.

The best solution is natural fluoride

In order to obtain the correct amount of fluoride during pregnancy, women must resort to natural sources of the micromineral and include them in their diet. The amount of fluoride necessary to be beneficial for both the mother and the fetus is minimal, Therefore, The consumption of certain foods is enough.

In addition to fortified water, which may already be included in your tap water, there are food products that are a source of fluoride. For example, the following:

  • Tea
  • Seafood and fish
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Grapes
  • Rice
  • Wheat

Regarding vegetables, such as spinach and tomatoes, there are no notorious restrictions. Moreover, the presence of vegetables in any diet is positive in order to provide the antioxidants and microminerals essential for metabolism.

Fish and seafood are a separate issue. Despite their health benefits, pregnant women should pay attention to their origin and select those with the lowest risk of having high concentrations of heavy metals. Small fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are preferable.

A pregnant woman cooking salmon in a skillet.

Cereals (rice and wheat) are pillars of the general diet, although some digestive effects must be considered, which, in the context of pregnancy, increase discomfort. At this stage, there is a greater tendency to slow intestinal transit and gas formation, so they are not always the first choice.

What about fluoride in toothpastes? Is it dangerous?

The use of fluoride toothpastes during pregnancy is recommended to prevent cavities in the mother. The dose ingested is minimal and doesn’t pose a threat when it comes to the possibility of fluorosis. In addition, during recommended dental visits during each trimester, the professional usually performs a fluoride treatment.

This is to strengthen the mother-to-be’s teeth and avoid complications in her mouth during pregnancy. This is important because the risk of oral disease due to poor hygiene during pregnancy is greater than the potential problems derived from the local use of the mineral.

Therefore, focusing on brushing, flossing, and eating a diet that ensures the necessary amount of fluoride to protect mother and baby is ideal. It’s also a good idea to check if the water you drink is fortified or if the water you buy meets the requirements.

When considering the use of a fluoride supplement in pills or tablets, your dentist should be consulted first. It’s not the most advisable option, but the professional will know how to advise you regarding what’s best for your particular case.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.