Dentists Warn of Excessive Fluoride Intake in Infants

Infants may be getting too much fluoride in their formula, the American Dental Association warned Wednesday.

A report by the National Research Council on fluorination levels in drinking water, “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards,” has raised concerns that feeding infants fluoride-fortified liquid or powdered baby formula mixed with fluorinated tap water results in babies getting too much of a good thing during a crucial time in tooth development.

The warning was issued in on the ADA's Web site.

Click here to read the ADA's complete advisory on excessive fluoride intake and enamel fluorisis.

Excessive fluoride intake causes a condition called enamel fluorosis — a discoloration of developing teeth that occurs before the teeth erupt through the gums. Teeth appear with white streaks and lines on the enamel. According to the Centers for Disease Control, enamel fluorosis can affect both baby and permanent teeth while the teeth are developing during the first year of life.

According to the CDC, fluorosis that results from excessive infant fluoride intake is usually mild and invisible to the untrained observer; the condition cannot affect teeth once they erupt through the gums.

To avoid excessive fluoride intake, the ADA advises feeding infants breast milk, or ready-to-feed formula that does not need to be mixed with water. If you must use powdered or liquid concentrate formula, mix it with non-fluorinated water, the ADA advised.

While the fluorination of drinking water is considered the single most important public health measure to prevent tooth decay, baby formulas, toothpastes, mouthwashes and other products fortified with fluoride, as well as the common practice of prescribing vitamins that contain fluoride to toddlers and preschoolers, can result in excessive fluoride intake.

The CDC estimates that due to exposure to these different fluoride sources, about 33 percent of U.S. children aged 12-15 have mild forms of enamel fluorosis.

Click here to read the CDC's complete advisory on excessive fluoride intake and enamel fluorisis

However, both the ADA and CDC stress the importance of fluoride in preventing tooth decay and acknowledge that the correlation between baby formula and fluorosis needs further study.