The Journal of the American Dental Association recently published research that suggests that young children who consume large quantities of fluoride, either through baby formula or other drinks mixed with fluoride-enhanced water or by swallowing fluoride toothpaste, have an increased risk of developing a mild case of enamel fluorosis. Many parents may have a knee-jerk reaction to this news and want to remove all fluoride consumption from their children entirely. However, the second part of this research explains–with support from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research–explains that mild fluorosis does not negatively impact one’s dental health or quality of life and greatly encourages parents to continue to allow their children to use fluoride toothpaste and consume fluoridated water because fluoride prevents tooth decay and tooth sensitivity. The study goes on to say that all concerns regarding mild dental fluorosis are probably exaggerated.
Mild enamel fluorosis surfaces as very faint white lines or streaks on tooth enamel, which could be caused by ingesting excess fluoride while teeth are developing. Excessive fluoride consumption from fluoridated baby formula between the ages of 3 to 9 months increases the possibility that the child will develop mild enamel fluorosis. Excessive consumption of fluoride-enhanced beverages between the ages of 16 to 36 months also increases the child’s risk.
While mild fluorosis should not concern parents that greatly, if you still want to help your child avoid it, there are ways to do so without removing all fluoridated substances. When using fluoridated water with baby formula, first consult with your family dentistry pediatrician. When using a fluoride toothpaste for children under three years of age, use a small (about the size of a pea) amount of the toothpaste and supervise your child while he or she brushes to ensure they aren’t consuming copious amounts.