Fluoride is a very important mineral that helps keep the teeth strong and healthy. It helps protect the teeth from decay, or reverse the early signs of decay when the destruction already exists. It does so by neutralizing or counteracting the harmful effects of the acids produced by decay-causing bacteria. But much like any other good stuff, too much fluoride is also a problem for children, as it can result in a condition called dental fluorosis.
1. Dental Fluorosis Causes a Change in the Appearance of the Tooth Enamel
If you’re wondering “what is dental fluorosis?” it’s the change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel. This change in appearance manifests as an alteration of the color and/or surface texture of the enamel. You may notice color changes such as white spots or brown streaks. On the other hand, the change in texture causes the enamel surface to become rough, pitted, or bumpy. These changes may remain throughout life. In some instances, the discolorations get darker over time.
2. Dental Fluorosis Can Be Mild, Moderate, or Severe.
Dental fluorosis is classified according to severity, although most cases of this condition are mild or very mild. Very mild fluorosis includes the presence of faint, lacy white streaks that are almost unnoticeable. It is often detected by your dentist during a routine oral examination.
3. In Mild Fluorosis, the Color Change is More Obvious and Appears as Bright White Spots.
Moderate to severe fluorosis, on the other hand, are quite uncommon. Moderate fluorosis appears similar to mild fluorosis, except that it covers more tooth surface.
Severe fluorosis, meanwhile, has both color and surface texture alteration. It causes pitting of the enamel, in addition to the unsightly brown, black, or gray spots or streaks.
4. Dental Fluorosis Doesn’t Cause Pain, Discomfort, or Problems in Function
The changes caused by dental fluorosis do not usually affect function, nor do they lead to any pain or discomfort. They can make the affected teeth much stronger and more resistant to decay. But these teeth can be quite unsightly and thus more of an esthetic concern for the patient.
5. Dental Fluorosis Often Affects Developing Teeth.
Dental fluorosis is caused by taking too much fluoride for an extended period while the teeth are still developing. It commonly occurs before eight years of age. People can avoid dental fluorosis by supervising your kid every time they brush their teeth to ensure that they do not use too much of the fluoridated toothpaste or mouthwash and that they spit it instead of swallowing.
Fluoridated oral hygiene goodies contain high amounts of the mineral.
6. Dental Fluorosis Treatment isn’t Always Necessary
Since dental fluorosis is mainly an esthetic concern and does not cause any pain, discomfort, or problems in function, treatment is often not necessary. But for patients who are conscious about the appearance of their teeth, microabrasion and/or teeth bleaching is/are recommended. Our dentist will help you determine if dental fluorosis treatment is necessary to achieve your desired results.
If the surface texture of the tooth is already altered, the patient may opt for composite fillings, porcelain veneers, or even crowns.
If you think you have dental fluorosis and would like to explore your treatment options, contact our Chula Vista or San Marcos dental office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Safarian. Please contact us today!