Fluoridated water is considered to be very safe for older children and adults, but can put infants at risk for fluorosis. If you are a parent of a very young child, this FAQ will help you understand what fluorosis is and how you can prevent your child from getting fluorosis.
What is fluorosis?
Fluorosis is a condition affecting the enamel of the teeth, caused by consumption of high amounts of fluoride while the teeth are developing under the gums. Fluorosis does not negatively affect the strength of the teeth, but can cause white splotches and brown spots on the enamel of the teeth. Fluorosis is a problem that often develops when babies are in their infant stage, because their teeth have not yet erupted from the gums.
How can I prevent my infant from getting fluorosis?
There are many ways that you can prevent your infant from consuming too much fluoride.
- Breastfeed your infant. Breastfed children get much less fluoride in their diet than children who consume formula mixed with fluoridated water.
- Feed your child powdered formula mixed with non-fluoridated water. Many communities fluoridate their water to protect the teeth of the people who live there. If your community fluoridates its water, and you feed your baby dry formula mixed with water, then you can protect your infant from fluorosis by mixing your baby's formula with de-ionized, distilled, purified or demineralized water purchased from the grocery store, provided that these waters do not indicate that fluoride was added after the purification process.
- Feed your baby pre-mixed formula. Pre-mixed formulas contain very little fluoride to ensure the safety of the infant.
At what point can I let my child be exposed to fluoride?
The American Dental Association recommends using fluoridated toothpaste as soon as a child's teeth have erupted. For children younger than 3 years of age, use a smear of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. For information about when your child should start drinking fluoridated water, have your child examined by a dentist, and consult with your child's physician. The amount of tap water that your child should be allowed to drink will depend in part on the condition of your child's teeth as well as the amount of fluoride in the water where you live. Both the dentist and the physician can help you determine how much fluoride your child needs in order to have strong, healthy teeth without being put at risk for fluorosis.
Contact a dental office like Smile 1st Dental Care for more help.