Dental fluorosis happens when children swallow too much fluoride before their teeth have finished forming (usually before age 8.) It was actually dental fluorosis that led researchers to eventually find that small amounts of fluoride can be beneficial for the teeth.
Dental fluorosis can range in severity from mild to severe. The mild form appears as white specks on the teeth, as seen in the picture below.
The severe form of fluorosis is usually brown in color as seen in the picture below:
It also looks like that person in the above picture has some cavities (the black spot on the tooth in the upper left of the picture and the other gray/white areas near the gumline)
Causes of Dental Fluorosis
Dental fluorosis is caused by swallowing too much fluoride. This can happen in a number of ways, including:
- Children being prescribed unnecessary fluoride supplements by their dentist (it does happen!)
- Swallowing too much toothpaste when brushing
- Babies drinking infant formula mixed with fluoridated water
How to Prevent Dental Fluorosis
You can reduce the risk that your child will get dental fluorosis by doing the following:
- Not giving your child fluoride supplements if your child is not at risk for cavities
- Using a fluoride-free “training” toothpaste until your child can spit out all of the toothpaste when they’re done brushing
- Mix infant formula with water that does not contain added fluoride
Dental fluorosis is a preventable condition. By monitoring your child while they brush their teeth and taking steps to prevent unnecessary exposure to fluoride for your children, you can avoid this problem. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Do you have any questions about dental fluorosis? Please leave your questions and comments below and I’ll get back with you.