Dental flourosis (pronounced “floo-roh-sis”) is a common condition that can affect the appearance of children’s teeth due to the hypocalcification of tooth enamel. What is hypocalcification? It’s merely the scientific term for having less than normal amounts of calcification in the teeth, leading to spots of softer enamel and discoloration.
Most cases of fluorosis are mild and do not affect tooth function or cause pain, though in rare severe cases the enamel itself is affected with pitting and brown spots that aren’t as easily treated. Adults aren’t affected by fluorosis, but if you suspect that your child may have a severe form of fluorosis, see a dentist as soon as possible.
Sometimes called mottled enamel or enamel fluorosis, dental fluorosis occurs due to the sustained overconsumption of fluoride when the enamel layers of permanent teeth are being formed, even before they’re visible. This can happen before the age of 8 when permanent teeth come in, or around the ages of 1-2 when baby teeth come in.
Is fluoride bad? No, the CDC supports the use of fluoride as an important way to prevent tooth decay in children and adults. Fluoride is safe, but should only be consumed in proper amounts. That’s why it’s beneficial for parents to monitor their children’s brushing habits during the stages of tooth formation, to assure they aren’t accidentally ingesting large amounts of toothpaste or mouthwash.
Mild forms of dental fluorosis can result in discoloration of teeth, usually appearing as white lace-like marks on the surface of teeth. More severe forms of dental fluorosis have larger areas of discoloration and, in rare severe cases, rough pits or pock-like marks on the enamel surface.
Infants can contract dental fluorosis due to the fluoride that is found in water (usually ingested when mixed with infant formula) or due to ingesting fluoride toothpaste. For kids under 2, breast feeding is a great alternative to formula and brushing can be done with a small, soft-bristled brush and plain water to limit fluoride intake.
For older children, remember to only apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and monitor their brushing to help them remember to spit toothpaste out after use.
Most cases of fluorosis are cosmetic and need no form of treatment. If the appearance of the teeth is seen as a problem, teeth whitening treatments can help to resolve visibly white spots. For more severe cases, consult your child’s dentist for the best treatment options.
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