What You Need to Know About Fluorosis

Fluoride is a good thing. However, like all good things, you can have too much of it. When you consume too much fluoride in early childhood, the result is often a medical condition called fluorosis. This condition causes changes in the outer protective portion of the tooth or enamel. Some changes are merely different patches of color while other changes are damage to the tooth. The good news is that this is treatable, especially if caught early enough.

Types

There are five different types of fluorosis depending on how severe it is. The mildest forms often do not need any treatment. The types are classified according to Dean’s Index, named after the Director of the National Institute of Dental Research who invented it in 1934, H. Trendley Dean. The mildest form is merely cosmetic with faint spotting on the teeth. The most severe type, 5, features dark brown or black spots that bore through the enamel. This is difficult to treat. The spots and stains in all types are often permanent. In the mildest type, 1, it may be able to make the stains or spots fade but they will not completely disappear.

Prevention

Since this dental condition begins in small children, the time to prevent it is then. Supervise your child’s tooth brushing habits. He or she should only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Make sure the child spits rather than swallows the used toothpaste. Make sure any products containing fluoride, such as gum, mouthwash or toothpaste, is kept out of a child’s curious hands.

What About Fluoridated Water?

Most cities and towns in America have fluoridated water. This is a great way to prevent cavities in children and adults. Public water supplies are supposed to keep a certain amount in their water. You can still check the water’s fluoride levels with your dentist. Avoid bottled water containing extra fluoride. If you have a private water supply, get the levels tested. Many dentists will perform these tests for you.

When to See the Dentist

Contact your dentist as soon as possible whenever you see spots or strange stains on your teeth or the teeth of your young child. There are many causes of spots or stains. Getting a correct diagnosis is the first step to getting the correct treatment.