The permanent teeth develop in your gums in the jawbone by early childhood itself. The crowns of all of the permanent teeth except the wisdom teeth are fully formed by 8 years of age. The crown is the part the teeth that is seen in the mouth. If too much fluoride is consumed by a young child (<8 years), the extra fluoride causes disruption of the enamel.
Enamel is the outer part of teeth. This leads to fluorosis --which can be mild (minor discoloration) to severe (surface irregularities of the teeth). After the teeth have erupted they are not affected by excess fluoride intake.
Fluorosis is more of a cosmetic problem than an actual dental disease. At times it may be mild that only a dental professional can notice it. In children the commonest cause of fluorosis is taking fluoride supplements or swallowing fluoride toothpaste if drinking water contains adequate amount of fluoride.
Fluorosis is more of a cosmetic problem than an actual dental disease. Flurosis causes changes in teeth which can range from;
- Mild changes in enamel which only a dental professional can notice, or
- White or brown discoloration or gray or black spots on the enamel, or
- Tooth surface irregularities (pitting, brown, gray or black spots).
Your dentist will do a clinical examination (examine your child's teeth and gums) and take a history specifically about your child's fluoride intake, any medication, or trauma. All this help your dentist to decide if the discoloration is due to fluorosis. Your dentist may take X-rays as well to rule out that there is no other defect or cavities. Some conditions that may look like fluorosis include some developmental defects and craniofacial problems, trauma.
Tooth discoloration due to fluorosis is usually permanent and it may darken over time.
Be cautious about the toothpaste
- Use only a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush who is less than 6 years.
- Teach your child to spit the paste after brushing.
- Do not use flavored toothpaste as this may encourage swallowing.
If your drinking water has added fluoride do not give fluoride supplements to your child.
Fluorosis is a cosmetic problem than an actual dental disease as it affects only the appearance of teeth and does not cause cavities. Hence treatment of fluorosis is aimed towards masking the stain.
- Mild cases may not need any treatment.
- If the satins are on the front teeth that are bothersome it can be treated by removing the surface-stained areas with tooth whitening or other procedures.
- Severe fluorosis will need to be masked using bonding, crowns or veneers.
Fluorosis is not a dental disease as it affects only the appearance of teeth and does not cause cavities or other dental problems.
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