Teeth fluorosis is a condition that leads to white or brown speckles on your teeth. It is caused by excessive fluoride exposure during childhood, when your permanent teeth are developing. Teeth fluorosis is only a cosmetic issue; it is not harmful to your health. However, there are treatments available to address the problem.
OVERVIEW: TEETH FLUOROSIS
What is dental fluorosis?
Fluorosis is a cosmetic dental condition that causes white or brown spots to appear on your teeth. These spots can range in size from tiny white flecks to dark brown patches that are clearly visible.
Who does fluorosis affect?
Dental fluorosis occurs in people who were overexposed to fluoride during their developmental years, prior to the eruption of their permanent (adult) teeth. Dental fluorosis is a condition that can affect children as young as eight years old. Fluorosis cannot affect teeth that have already erupted (grown in).
How common is dental fluorosis?
Mild fluorosis is quite common, affecting roughly one in every four Americans aged 6 to 49. In the United States, moderate to severe fluorosis is far less common.
Does fluorosis weaken teeth?
No. Dental fluorosis in the mouth has no effect on oral health or function. In fact, people who have fluorosis are more resistant to cavities. This discovery prompted health officials to introduce fluoride at a safe level into public water supplies. This means that fluoride levels in public water supplies would be high enough to help prevent tooth decay but not high enough to cause fluorosis. (Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water.)
TEETH FLUOROSIS: SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES
What are the symptoms of fluorosis?
Dental fluorosishas only one symptom: tooth discoloration. The severity of your condition will determine the extent of your discoloration. Fluorosis is classified by dentists using the following terms:
- Questionable: A few very light white flecks and white spots.
- Very mild: Light white areas covering less than 25% of your tooth surfaces.
- Mild: Light white areas covering less than 50% of your tooth surfaces.
- Moderate: White or light brown areas covering more than 50% of your tooth surfaces.
- Severe: White, light brown or dark brown spots affecting all surfaces. Your teeth may also have pitting (small depressions in your tooth enamel).
In mild cases, tooth discoloration can be so subtle that only your dentist will notice it. However, if dental fluorosisis affecting your confidence or self-esteem, cosmetic dental treatments can help.
What are the reasons for fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis occurs when a child consumes an excessive amount of fluoride while their permanent teeth are still forming beneath their gums. This includes drinking fluoridated water and using fluoride toothpaste.
Adults do not develop dental fluorosis. It only affects teeth that are still forming beneath the gums.
TEETH FLUOROSIS: DIAGNOSIS AND TESTS
How is fluorosis diagnosed?
Dental fluorosis can be diagnosed based on:
- Measurement of urinary and serum fluoride levels, as people with fluorosis tend to have increased levels of fluoride
- Bone biopsy with bone fluoride estimation to detect skeletal fluorosis
- CT scan to detect changes in bone associated with fluorosis
- MRI scan to detect changes associated with compression of tissues and nerves
Measurement of fluoride levels in the individual’s residential area can confirm the diagnosis. The severity of fluorosed teeth depends on the duration, frequency, and timing of the exposure during tooth development. The appearance of the affected teeth varies from white streaks (mild flurosis) to brown (moderate fluorosis) to dark brown or black (severe fluorosis) discolouration
TEETH FLUOROSIS: MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT
Does fluorosis go away?
Brushing and flossing will not remove fluorosis stains. Fluorosis can only be treated with cosmetic dental procedures such as dental bonding, veneers, or crowns. These treatments are discussed in greater detail in the section that follows.
How do you get rid of fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis can be treated with cosmetic dental procedures. The best treatment for you is determined by several factors, including the severity of your fluorosis, your budget, and your personal preferences. Dental fluorosis treatments that are commonly used include:
- Teeth whitening. Your dentist applies bleaching gel to your teeth for a predetermined amount of time. The gel lightens your tooth enamel so it blends in with fluorosis. While teeth whitening is an option for mild cases of fluorosis, other treatments may be more suitable for you.
- Dental bonding. During this procedure, your dentist uses tooth-colored composite resin to cover up fluorosis stains. Your teeth are then shaped and polished for natural-looking results.
- Dental veneers. Made from resin or porcelain, veneers are thin shells that adhere to the front surfaces of your teeth. Veneers are custom-made, so you’ll need to have dental impressions to achieve the correct fit and size.
- Dental crowns. Like veneers, crowns are custom-made. However, this type of dental restoration fits over your entire tooth. Your dentist will need to remove some of your natural enamel so the crown fits properly.
- Enamel microabrasion. During this procedure, your dentist removes a small layer of enamel from your teeth. This helps eliminate many fluorosis stains. Often, your dentist will follow enamel microabrasion with teeth whitening to make the color of your teeth even more uniform.
TEETH FLUOROSIS: PREVENTION
How can I reduce my child’s risk for dental fluorosis?
To reduce the risk of dental fluorosis, be aware of how much fluoride your child is exposed to. Learn about local water fluoridation laws or test the fluoride levels in your well water. While you don’t want to overexpose your child to fluoride, you do want to make sure they get enough while their teeth are developing. A sufficient amount of fluoride is required for your child’s dental health.
In addition, you should:
- Make sure your child spits toothpaste out instead of swallowing it.
- Limit your child’s consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages.
- Practice good teeth cleaning habits with your child.
Visit dental clinic at least every six months for routine dental check-ups. We highly recommend you to go to BeDental
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