A new parent asked me the other day if they could use concentrated or powdered baby formula that needed to be mixed with water. That brought to mind the need to discuss fluoride and its importance in developing teeth.
Over the past 40 years, tooth decay in young children had been decreasing. Recent studies show that the trend is reversing and we are once again dealing with tooth decay in young children’s teeth. I had written in a previous column about “early childhood caries” as it related to prolonged bottle use, but early cavities may also be related to inadequate fluoride consumption.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that protects and strengthens teeth from developing cavities. Infants’ teeth are developing and will be stronger and more resistant to cavities if they have been exposed to fluoride. Fluoride is found in drinking water we usually get from drinking water from the faucet in our homes.
If the community water supply has greater than 0.6 ppm (you can check on this by checking with public health officials in your city) and you use tap water routinely then your infants and children are getting adequate fluoride and will not need supplements.
The issue is that many families are drinking bottled water or use home filtration systems. In this case your infant may not receive the fluoride that they need. We don’t often think about fluoride and drinking water, but I am amazed at how many families are concerned about using tap water.
We pay a water bill each month to provide water to our homes, one of the advantages of the modern age. This water is tested, protected and ensured to be safe, and on top of that has fluoride added at the correct amounts to ensure proper dental protection. So why do so many of us buy bottled water?
At the same time it has been pointed out that plastic water bottles are filling up landfills, and polluting our environment. Who would have thought to invest in water that comes in bottles, not me. Sounds crazy. Why buy special “nursery water” which is costly and not eco friendly?
So, why do we parents try to complicate things that don’t need to be complicated? Be thrifty and use the water you pay for out of the faucet. It is safer to mix formula with tap water, which provides adequate fluoride for those developing teeth, than using fluoride drops or supplements that may be forgotten or mis-measured. Along with protecting new teeth you will be protecting the environment, a “two-fer” for your baby.
I am also going to practice what I preach and have stopped buying bottled water. I am now using a re-usable bottle for my daily workouts, filled with good old-fashioned tap water!
That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.