Many young patients discover that their newly erupted teeth have white spots or brown marks. There are many reasons why teeth can emerge with marks on them, but one of the more common conditions is called fluorosis.
Dental fluorosis appears in children who have drank or eaten excessively amounts of fluoride between the age of 2 months and 7 years of age. During this period the crowns of permanent teeth are developing in the gums, and a disruption will lead to a permanent mark on the teeth.
The possible sources of a fluoride overdose include:
- Swallowing toothpaste or mouth rinse which usually contain fluoride.
- Drinking bottled water which is not tested for fluoride content.
- Ingesting fluoride supplements more than the recommended dose. Some children like the taste of the tablets and have them as candy.
- Drinking tap water that is naturally or artificially fluoridated to levels well above the recommended dose.
- The build up of fluoride from fruit juice and soft drinks supplemented with it.
One way to reduce the risk for enamel fluorosis is to teach your children not to swallow topical fluoride products, such as toothpaste that contains fluoride, or fluoride mouth wash. Or have them use a tooth paste for children, which is specially formulated without fluoride or has a reduced concentration of it. The recommended amount of toothpaste for a child to use, is the size of a pea.
Once dental fluorosis has appeared it can be treated with tooth bleaching, microabrasion, conservative composite restorations or porcelain veneers. The right solution depends on the extent of the fluorosis, if the stains are white or brown or how deep the stains are.
For children, fluorosis can cause significant embarrassment and anxiety about the appearance of their teeth. Since no matter how much they brush and floss their teeth, the fluorosis stains will not go away. It is important for them to come and see us. This way I can examine the condition and provide the right treatment to protect their teeth and restore their appearance.