What is fluorosis?
That is a good question and one that we are asked often. Fluorosis is a change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel surface. The most common types of fluorosis do not affect the function of the tooth and do not cause pain.
Most cases of fluorosis that we see are mild and appear as white, lacy markings on the tooth’s enamel and with an untrained eye are difficult to see.
Fewer instances of fluorosis are moderate. This appears as again as white, lacy markings, however, cover more of the tooth surface.
In rare cases, fluorosis is described as severe. In this instance, we will find the enamel pitted with brown spots.
What Causes Dental Fluorosis?
The simple answer to this question is due to an overconsumption of fluoride over a period of time when teeth are forming but before they appear in the mouth. This takes place before8 years of age. To avoid this from happening it is important to supervise children when brushing their teeth to ensure they do not use too much toothpaste or mouthwash. It is important to ensure your child spits out toothpaste after brushing and rinses their mouth with water rather than allowing them to swallow the excess.
How can I determine if my child has fluorosis?
As there are many possible causes in the appearance of teeth, it is best to have your child’s teeth checked by a dental professional. It is recommended that children start visiting a dentist by their first birthday.
How much fluoride should my child have in order to protect his/her teeth without the risk of fluorosis?
Children who consume a well-balanced diet, drink fluoridated water, and use fluoridated dental products correctly will get the necessary fluoride levels to maintain healthy teeth. It is not necessary to monitor water or food consumption since your child will ingest low levels of fluoride from these sources. It is important to ensure that your child does not swallow toothpaste or mouth rinse as these contain higher concentrations of fluoride.
Is there anything I can do to protect my child’s teeth without causing fluorosis?
The following steps can help protect your child’s teeth:
- Children younger than 3 should use only a smear of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Limit tooth brushing to 2 times a day for this age group.
- Children aged 3-6 years should use a slightly larger “pea-sized” amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Make sure your child is supervised and help your child brush his/her teeth. Most young children will instinctively swallow water, but they should be encouraged to spit out excess toothpaste.
- Keep all dental hygiene products out of reach to avoid accidental ingestion.