Dental Fluorosis is a lesser-known dental cosmetic problem that affects multiple children and a few adults globally. Unfortunately, fluoride has a negative side because while it strengthens the enamel, over-exposure can lead to visible changes on the tooth surface.
But this is not a significant issue because it does not even count as dental disease. As mentioned, it is a cosmetic issue and is often very subtle. But if you are worried about your teeth or your child’s teeth, you can learn more about the problem below.
This information will cover the causes and risk factors of dental fluorosis. We will also outline some of the signs and symptoms of the issue. Finally, we will cover how widespread the condition is and some available treatments and preventions.
What Is Dental Fluorosis?
As mentioned, dental fluorosis is a cosmetic issue that affects the surface of the teeth. It is caused by overexposure to fluoride during the first few years of childhood, when most permanent teeth form. Fluorosis changes the appearance of the enamel (outermost tooth surface).
Very mild forms of fluorosis show scattered white flecks, frosty edges, and chalk-like lines on the surface of the teeth. These changes are barely noticeable, and often, only your dentist will see them.
Moderate to severe forms of fluorosis will show larger white spots, rough, pitted surfaces, and deeper lacy chalk lines. The most severe cases also show stains ranging from yellow to dark brown. Some people also develop surface irregularities.
Symptoms Of Fluorosis
Other common symptoms of fluorosis include:
- White opaque areas on the tooth surface
- Permanently damaged teeth
Fluorosis does not come with any pain or sensitivity. Additionally, your child should not experience any discolorations or bleeding.
But you will notice a few weird changes to your child’s teeth. Regular teeth are often glossy, smooth, and pale creamy white. Go to your dentist if you notice changes to these characteristics.
Risk Factors And Causes Of Fluorosis
The primary cause of fluorosis is taking too much fluoride over a long period, especially when teeth are forming under the gums in childhood. This is why children are more prone to fluorosis than adults. Specifically, children aged eight and younger are more at risk.
Children receive over-exposure to fluoride when they use a fluoride toothpaste in their younger years. The taste of toothpaste can be delightful to children, and they may swallow instead of spit it out. It could also contribute to overbrushing. This could lead to fluorosis in the future.
Additionally, many counties put fluoride in their water supply to strengthen tooth enamel. Too much intake of fluoride could cause the condition. This made the Health and Human Services Department lower the recommended fluoride level in drinking water.
Additionally, some people take too much fluoride through supplements, putting them more at risk. But fluoride is not bad for the teeth. You just need to ensure that you consume the right amounts of fluoride.
How To Prevent Dental Fluorosis
Because dental fluorosis often affects children, it is up to parents and caregivers to help reduce the chances of developing the problem. Luckily, you can do a few things to prevent the fine lines and streaks from forming.
If the child is under two and still drinking formula, you can start by finding an alternative water source. As mentioned, some counties have fluoride in their water supply, which will overexpose the child’s teeth. If your child is under 2, you can also consider breastfeeding. It will strengthen your child’s teeth.
As for brushing, you need to be more alert with your child’s brushing techniques. Ensure that your child only uses a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when cleaning their teeth. Ensure that they spit instead of swallow. You can enhance this by using flavorless toothpaste.
Avoid giving the child fluoride mouth rinses if you notice any symptoms of fluorosis, especially if your child is younger than 6. These mouth rinses will over-expose your child’s teeth to fluoride.
Additionally, ensure that they use plain water for brushing to limit fluoride intake. When storing toothpaste and other fluoride products, keep them out of reach of children. If your child ingests large amounts of fluoride, it will cause adverse reactions such as:
- Abdominal pain
These symptoms are not very serious but ensure that you go to a general physician for treatment if it happens.
Some children are susceptible to tooth decay and enamel erosion. Dentists will prescribe fluoride supplements to aid this. But if you are concerned about it, ensure that you speak up about your concerns so the dentist can do it in moderation.
Treatment Options For Dental Fluorosis
Many cases of dental fluorosis are mild to average. Additionally, it can only affect the back teeth, which are rarely in sight. Therefore, this is not a huge concern and is more of a cosmetic issue. And since children are more at risk, you do not need treatment.
However, if your child’s teeth have severe symptoms such as browning, you can improve their appearance with a few techniques. They are ideal for masking the stains and improving the appearance of the teeth.
Some of the treatment options include:
- Tooth whitening. Tooth whitening procedures are popular, and you can get them when your child is older. But it is important to note that bleaching may worsen the appearance of the fluorosis. Additionally, some procedures erode the enamel. Therefore, always talk to your dentist before considering any tooth whitening procedures.
- Bonding. This procedure coats the tooth with a hard resin that bonds to the enamel. It masks the stains from fluorosis. Again, ensure that you talk to your dentist before this procedure to ensure it is the right option.
- Veneers. These are custom-made shells that cover the front teeth to mask stains and improve their appearance. These are only needed for severe cases of fluorosis.
- MI Paste. This is a calcium phosphate product that dentists can combine with microabrasion to minimize the fine chalk lines and discoloration on the tooth surface.
Any expert will tell you that fluorosis is not a dental disease. It is a cosmetic issue that affects children, and you rarely need to take any action. Take your child to regular checkups to ensure their teeth are healthy and strong. Make an appointment today at All About Smile Dental Group.