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In the United States, beginning in 1945, we have put fluoride into public water supplies to fight tooth decay. As of May 2000, 42 of the 50 largest U.S. cities had water fluoridation.

This has played a positive part in strengthening our population’s dental health and reduced cavities from tooth decay. But for children, especially newborns whose teeth are still forming in the gums, too much fluoride can cause what is called enamel fluorosis, the result of which is white lines or patches on the teeth.

Other than this discoloration, fluoride doesn’t frustrate overall growth, strength, or health of the teeth, but it does present this unfortunate cosmetic problem.

To avert enamel fluorosis in your child we recommend:

-Using formula that does not require being mixed with water–or using water that does not contain fluoride. Many store-bought brands of bottled water do not. Check the labels.

-Breastfeeding as long as possible. Most doctors suggest at least 6 months.

When the infant’s teeth appear from the gums you are clear from the danger of fluorosis. Although, the permanent teeth come in around 12 years of age. So, the American Dental Association (ADA) has further recommendations:

-2-years-old and under, when the first tooth comes in, begin brushing the teeth and massaging the gums with a soft-bristled toothbrush, but do not use a toothpaste that has fluoride.

-Above the age of two through five years of age you may start using fluoride, but only a small dab about the size of a pea–and make sure they do not swallow but spit out the toothpaste. At this point, your child should be brushing their own teeth, but supervise this so they do not glob on the toothpaste or consume it. Lastly, do not allow the use of fluoridated mouthwash.

If you are worried about fluorosis, our dentists, Dr. John and Dr. Olson would be happy to alleviate your concerns. Please contact Carson City Pediatric Dentistry at: 775-461-3800, or come by our office in Carson City, Nevada.