The Facts about Fluorosis

Fight fluorosis by moderating fluoride use

Fight fluorosis by moderating fluoride use

Fluorosis is a condition that disrupts tooth enamel formation. Mild cases of fluorosis appear as white lines, spots, or streaks on the enamel of permanent teeth. In severe cases, the enamel can be misshapen and teeth can look brown or gray. The unusual thing about fluorosis is that it impacts the permanent teeth before they even emerge. How can you prevent your child from developing fluorosis? Dr. Bevin Malley of Carolina Kids Dentistry in Mint Hill NC offers advice.

Permanent Tooth Development

By the time a child is about 8 years old, the crowns of all of the permanent teeth — with the exception of the wisdom teeth — have fully formed. The crown of the a tooth is the part that you see above the gumline. These permanent teeth are in the jaw, underneath the baby teeth, waiting to emerge. You may have seen an X-ray of your child’s smile showing this “double” row of teeth.

The Causes of Fluorosis

The staining, discoloration, and irregularities of a tooth’s surface resulting from fluorosis is caused by excess fluoride. Most cases are caused by a child receiving fluoride supplements that they don’t need or swallowing fluoride toothpaste when they brush.

Fluoride serves a valuable purpose. It helps tooth enamel stay strong and fights cavities. Too much fluoride, though, can have negative effects on developing teeth. (Once permanent teeth emerge, they’re no longer susceptible to fluorosis.)

Fluoride is present in water that comes out of the tap in public water systems. Some fruit juices and sodas have added fluoride. It’s also in toothpastes and some mouthwashes.

Preventing Fluorosis

Talk to Dr. Malley about what your child eats and drinks to determine the amount of fluoride your child may be receiving. Make sure that your child uses only a pea-size amount of toothpaste when brushing. Encourage spitting, not swallowing, during and after brushing.

Often, fluorosis is so mild that only the dentist can identify its occurrence. In other cases, professional teeth whitening can eliminate the staining caused by fluorosis. Mint Hill’s Dr. Malley will discuss treatment options with you and help you determine the optimal one for your child’s needs.

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Pick up the phone and call us if you have questions. We’re here to help.