Have you ever wondered why your teeth, or your child’s teeth, have white spots or strange stains on them, even though you brush and floss regularly?
It could be the sign of fluorosis, caused by excessive fluoride intake. Fluorosis is a dental and skeletal condition that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild white spots to severe discoloration and weakened teeth.
Why dentists like fluoride…
Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in soil, water, and some foods. It is also added to toothpaste, mouthwash, and drinking water to help prevent dental caries. As dentists, we’re generally big fans of fluoride. Here is a video from the American Dental Association that tells the fluoride story.
When things go awry…
Though fluoride plays a big role in maintaining oral health, sometimes, it can go wrong. Fluorosis occurs when a person is exposed to too much fluoride, especially during the period of tooth development, which is typically between birth and eight years of age.
Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Mild fluorosis may cause white spots on the teeth, while severe fluorosis can cause brown or black stains, pitting, pain, sensitivity, or crumbling of the enamel.
- Children who tend to swallow toothpaste or mouthwash containing fluoride are also at risk.
- Fluorosis is also more common in areas where the natural water supply contains high levels of fluoride.
- It is also more common in people who consume large amounts of fluoride through their diet, supplements, or occupational exposure.
How can we prevent fluorosis?
Preventing fluorosis is important and can be done by controlling fluoride exposure…
- Using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing
- Using mouthwash that does not contain fluoride
- Drinking bottled water or water that has been treated to remove fluoride if the natural water supply contains high levels
- Monitoring the use of fluoride supplements, especially in children
- Caution when using fluoride-rich products in areas with high levels of fluoride in the water
How dentists can help…
Dentists can definitely treat the symptoms of fluorosis, however severe. They can also provide guidance on how to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This includes educating patients on the appropriate use of fluoride toothpaste, mouthwash, and supplements, as well as monitoring the fluoride content of the water supply.
If you suspect that you or your child may be at risk, schedule a dental appointment with us to address the issue and to help ensure the health and appearance of your teeth.
We are here for you!