Adding tap water to baby formula could upset optimal balance of fluoride

You’ve put lots of thought and research into which formula is right for your baby, but have you thought about what you’re putting into that formula?

Even before they have teeth, infants can benefit from the protection fluoride offers against tooth decay. Many powdered and ready-to-feed formulas already contain optimal levels of fluoride. Adding fluoridated tap water could put that optimal level of fluoride out of balance.1

“Too little fluoride puts a child at a greater risk for tooth decay, but too much fluoride is unnecessary and can result in an otherwise harmless discoloration of a baby’s teeth, a condition called fluorosis,” said Max Anderson, DDS, a national oral health adviser for Delta Dental Plans Association.

Fluoride in appropriate amounts has been proven safe and effective for people at all stages of life. It can help set the stage for a lifetime of healthy teeth, even before a child’s first teeth come in. During tooth formation in infants, ingested fluoride becomes incorporated into the tooth structure and helps protect developing teeth against decay.2

The easiest way to ensure your infant is getting an optimal amount of fluoride is to reconstitute concentrated or powdered formulas with non-fluoridated, bottled distilled water.3 This water may be labeled as distilled baby water, purified, demineralized, deionized, distilled or reverse osmosis filtered water.

If you would like to continue using tap water, check with your local or county department of health for more information about fluoride in your area. In areas where fluoride is added to the water supply or where it naturally occurs in the water, running it through a home treatment system that uses reverse osmosis filtration should remove a significant amount of the fluoride.

“Fluoride has done much to improve the oral health of Americans,” said Dr. Anderson. “Parents need to be aware of whether their infants and older children are getting enough from all the potential sources, including toothpastes, mouth rinses and drinking water. Talk to your dentist to determine if your kids are getting the right amount of fluoride.”

Delta Dental Plans Association, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is a national network of independent not-for-profit dental service corporations specializing in providing dental benefits programs to 50 million Americans in more than 88,000 employee groups throughout the country.

(1) Delta Dental Plans Association: Fluoride in Infant Formulas.

(2) American Dental Association: Fluoridation Facts

(3) Oral Health Topics: Fluoride & Fluoridation: Infants, Formula and Fluoride;

from the Oct. 24-30, 2007, issue

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