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, as it can result to a condition called dental fluorosis.
Learn the basic facts about dental fluorosis in this article.
Dental fluorosis causes change in the appearance of the tooth enamel.
This change in appearance manifests as alteration of the color and/or surface texture of the enamel. Color change is characterized by the presence of white spots or brown streaks, while 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.
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 in nature. Very mild fluorosis is characterized by the presence of faint, lacy white streaks that are almost unnoticeable. It is often detected by your dentist during routine oral examination.
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.
Dental fluorosis does not 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. In fact, 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.
Dental fluorosis often affects developing teeth.
Dental fluorosis is caused by taking too much fluoride for an extended period of time while the teeth are still developing. It commonly occurs before eight years of age. It can be avoided 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.
Dental fluorosis may or may not require treatment.
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.
If the surface texture of the tooth is already altered, the patient may opt for composite fillings, veneers, or even crowns.