Dental fluorosis is a cosmetic condition affecting the teeth that’s caused by overexposure to fluoride during the first years of life. This is the time when most permanent teeth are formed. Once your child’s teeth come out, those affected with fluorosis appear mildly discolored, mostly with lacy white markings only dentists can detect. In severe cases, the teeth can have yellow to dark brown stains, surface irregularities and highly noticeable pits.
Causes of Dental Fluorosis
One major cause of fluorosis is the inappropriate use of fluoride contained in dental products like mouth rinses and toothpaste. At times, children like the taste of fluoridated toothpaste that they swallow it instead of spitting it. There are also other causes of fluorosis, such as taking fluoride supplements higher than prescribed during early childhood, as well as taking fluoride supplements along with fluoride-fortified drinks and fluoridated drinking water.
Symptoms of Dental Fluorosis
Fluorosis symptoms range from white streaks or specks that might be unnoticeable to dark brown stains and pitted enamel that’s hard to clean. Teeth affected by fluorosis are glossy and smooth, with a pale creamy white color. We reached out to a pediatric dentists in Levittown when we noticed our child’s teeth had white spots on them. We found out that dentists have rated the severity of fluorosis using the following categories.
- Questionable: Few white flecks to occasional white spots
- Very mild: Small opaque white areas over less than 25 percent of tooth surface
- Mild: White opaque areas on the surface affecting less than 50 percent of the surface
- Moderate: White opaque areas affecting over 50 percent of enamel surface
- Severe: All enamel surfaces affected
Treatments for Dental Fluorosis
In most cases, fluorosis is mild or it might only affect the back teeth. The appearance of teeth affected by moderate and severe fluorosis can be improved by several techniques, most of which are aimed at covering the stains. Some of these techniques might include tooth whitening and other surface stain-removal procedures, bonding, crows, veneers and MI Paste combined with microabrasion to decrease tooth discoloration.
Prevention of Dental Fluorosis
Parental vigilance is very important in kids dental hygiene and preventing fluorosis. If water comes from a public system, your local municipality can tell you the amount of fluoride in it. If you rely on bottled or well water, your local laboratory can look into its fluoride content if any. Once you know the amount of fluoride your child gets from water, juices and other drinks, you can work with your dentist in determining if your child requires fluoride supplements.
At home, be vigilant about the dental health for your children by making sure that you keep any products containing fluoride like supplements, mouth rinses and toothpaste out of the reach of your children. Once a child consumes a large amount of fluoride in a short amount of time, it can lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Although fluoride toxicity often isn’t fatal, it can send your child to the emergency room.
Also monitor how your child uses fluorinated toothpaste. Only put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their toothbrush, which should be enough for fluoride protection. It’s also important that you teach your child to spit out the toothpaste after brushing, and not swallow it. You can encourage spitting by avoiding toothpastes with flavors that children may likely swallow.