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We have put fluoride into public water systems to fight tooth decay since 1945. As of the year 2000, forty-two of the fifty biggest population centers in the United States had water fluoridation.

This action has strengthened our population’s dental health and reducing 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.

Besides this splotchy discoloration, excess fluoride doesn’t frustrate overall growth, strength, or health of the teeth, but it does present this problematic appearance issue.

Suggestions to avoid enamel fluorosis:

– Use formula that doesn’t need to be mixed with water from the tap, or use water that does not contain fluoride. Several over-the-counter bottled water brands do not have fluoride. Simply look at the ingredients.

– Pass on your body’s health benefits by breastfeeding your baby at least 6 months. This is the recommended minimum amount of time that it takes to transfer the mother’s immunities and health advantages according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

After the baby’s teeth start to emerge from the gums you are free 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:

– At 2-years-old or younger, at the appearance of the first tooth, start brushing the tooth and gums gently with a soft toothbrush, but do not use a toothpaste that has fluoride.

– From 2-5 years of age, you may start using fluoride–but only a little. Use only a pea-sized dab and make sure they spit out the remains when finished and not swallow. You may need to supervise them at this age to ensure they do this properly. Finally, do not let them use a mouthwash with fluoride.

If you are worried about enamel fluorosis, our team would be happy to alleviate your concerns. Please contact Jodi W. Funk, DDS, FAGD at: 509-747-4242, or come by our office in Spokane, Washington.