Reduce the Risk for Enamel Fluorosis
Parents are vigilant lest their baby develop any imperfection—especially one that could be avoided. For instance, parents would not want to feed their child with formula that would cause enamel fluorosis in permanent teeth.
Although the name sounds ominous, enamel fluorosis is most often nearly invisible to the naked eye and has no systematic effects. Enamel fluorosis is the excessive whitening of spots on the enamel of permanent teeth. The condition develops only while the teeth are still maturing, invisibly, below the gums, in children 8 years and younger. It’s caused by the intake of too much of the tooth-strengthening mineral fluoride.
When it occurs, enamel fluorosis is almost always mild, with the whitened spots visible almost exclusively to peering dental professionals. Occasionally, fluorosis spots are more visible; very rarely do they cause a potential cosmetic problem.
How would an infant take in excessive fluoride? Theoretically, by consuming too much highly fluoridated water, especially water to which more than 2 mg/liter of fluoride is added. Properly fluoridated water contains about 0.7 mg/liter of fluoride. Fluoridation, usually, is a good thing—it helps prevent tooth decay.
But, often, babies drink not only tap water in their bottles or sippy cups but also powdered or concentrated liquid formula that has been prepared with fluoridated water. The formula itself does not contribute to enamel fluorosis; it is the improperly fluoridated water with which it has been mixed.
If you’re concerned about your tap water, a potential source of enamel fluorosis, consider these choices:
- Breastfeed your child for at least the first six months of life.
- If and when you feed your child formula (after consultation with your child’s physician), choose either the ready-to-feed kind or mix the formula with low-fluoride bottled water, usually marked purified, distilled, demineralized or deionized. You can also alternate between fluoridated tap water and bottled water.
- Wipe your child’s gums with a soft cloth after he or she drinks formula—a good habit to develop, in any case.
If you don’t know how much fluoride is in your tap water, consult your local water utility—or ask Dr. Jared and his clinical team. We’ll have the answer or help you find it. Taking care of your child’s primary teeth can have a big payoff on the health of his or her permanent dentition.
If you have further questions regarding fluorosis, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.