Dental Fluorosis – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Teeth affected by dental fluorosis

Does your child have dental fluorosis? Does fluorosis affect the health of people especially children? Have you heard of dental fluorosis? Affecting children’s teeth, dental fluorosis is hypocalcification of the tooth enamel. This problem causes less calcification in the teeth than the normal amount thereby leading to discoloration and much softer enamel. Pronounced as floo-roh-sis, this condition is common amongst children but does not cause pain  or abnormal functioning of the teeth except in rare cases where there may be brown spots and pits in the teeth.   

As a natural mineral, fluoride combines with other minerals to protect the teeth. Working in two ways both topically and systemically, fluoride is a natural mineral which combines with other minerals in the teeth to protect them as well as acting as an acid resistant enamel.  With systemic fluoride transforming itself to work as a protection agent for the teeth right from with babyhood to a growing child, it is capable of being ingested in the food and in other supplements. Topically, fluoride is found in tooth paste and mouth washes.

Causes of Dental Fluorosis

Called under different terms suchasenamel fluorosis and mottled enamel, dental fluorosis is caused by too much intake of fluoride. This may happen when the enamel layers of the permanent teeth are in the process of formation or even before the baby teeth can be seen. Fluorosis can occur in children at the age of 8 years at the time the permanent teeth are being formed or even at one and two when the baby teeth emerge. Though fluoride is safe for both children and adults, it should only be consumed or ingested in the right amounts.

The symptoms of dental fluorosis are varied and manifests as discoloration of the teeth with lace-like markings with severe cases showing pock type of marks and rough pits on the enamel of the teeth. Some of the other symptoms may evolve as black marks and white spots on the teeth. More severe forms of fluorosis may be seen as white streaks on the teeth with the teeth being pitted, mottled and/or discolored.

How Can Fluorosis Be Treated?

If the child or adult has a mild case of fluorosis, no form of treatment is required. But in severe cases, there are options to improve the teeth. These treatments include crowns and veneers, removing the stains with tooth whitening treatment and application of a hard resin coating called bonding to the enamel of the tooth.

You can prevent fluorosis by checking with your doctor or dentist on the amount of fluoride present in the public water supply. When you know the quantity of fluoride that is being consumed by your child by way of fruit juices, soft drinks and drinking water, then it is possible to decide if a fluoride supplement is needed. As bigger amounts of fluoride can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea, it is necessary to safeguard products made with fluoride such as mouthwash, fluoride supplements and toothpaste out of reach of children.    

Prevention of Fluorosis      

With infants, children under the age of two and older children under the risk of contracting fluorosis, you can consult with your dentist regarding alternatives on how to limit the fluoride intake. The key solution is parental vigilance when there is a need to preventing fluorosis. The good news is fluoride toxicity does not cause severe damage or major consequences though any number of children have been visiting their dentists due to fluorosis.     

It will be wise if parents can observe and rectify their children’s’ usage of fluoridated toothpaste. It is necessary to use toothpaste about the size of a pea. This would be enough to protect against fluorosis. Children must be taught to spit out the toothpaste after brushing the teeth instead of swallowing it. Parents must take care not to buy flavored toothpastes as children can swallow this instead of spitting it out.


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