Monitor Infant's Fluoride Intake

If you add fluoridated water to your infant's baby formula, you may be putting your child at risk of developing dental fluorosis, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, a North American dental organization dedicated to continuing education to ensure the best possible care for the patient.

Although all water and foods contain some natural fluoride, a baby's developing teeth are sensitive to higher fluoride levels. Fluorosis, a harmless cosmetic condition manifested by brown mottled or discolored enamel, may occur if your child is regularly exposed to fluoride levels higher than 1 ppm (parts per million).

Though breast milk and most ready-to-feed formulas contain infant-safe fluoride levels, parents must be careful with concentrate formulas that require adding water. Community water or well sources often contain fluoride levels higher than 1 ppm.

When formula concentrations need to be diluted, it is recommended parents use low fluoride bottled distilled water (labeled as "purified" or "distilled baby water") or tap water with a reverse osmosis home water filtration system attached that removes most of the fluoride.

"If your child's teeth develop brown spots, visit your dentist to check for fluorosis." says James Tennyson, DDS, member of the Academy of General Dentistry. "It also could signal tooth decay, in which case your child may be prescribed fluoride supplements."

"If you correct a fluorosis problem in your child's first primary teeth," says Dr. Tennyson, "your child probably won't have a problem when the permanent teeth erupt at age five or six."

Dr. Tennyson also recommends checking your water source's fluoride levels by collecting a fresh sample in a sterile container and taking it to your local health or water department. Or, your dentist may be able to test your sample if his office has a colorimeter, which can determine the concentration of fluoride by comparing the sample to a standard.