The cosmetic condition caused by overexposure of teeth to fluoride early in life is called fluorosis. According to Dentist in Karachi the chances are higher if this exposure occurs in the first eight years of life, while most permanent teeth are under formation. But how exactly is fluorosis diagnosed and treated? Read on to find out:
What is fluorosis?
When young children, up to eight years of age are exposed to too much fluoride, over a period of time the permanent teeth are developing in the gums. Once these permanent teeth break through the gums, fluorosis cannot occur.
On the teeth, fluorosis looks like faint white markings that change the appearance of teeth. The functionality of the teeth, however, is not affected. In mild forms, the white spots of fluorosis are barely noticeable. In moderate and severe forms, however, the changes in the enamel are more extensive.
What are the causes of fluorosis?
As mentioned before, the predominant cause of fluorosis is exposure and intake of too much fluoride. This includes dental products as well as mouth rinses that children often like the taste of. Sometimes, this prompts them to swallow the toothpaste instead of spitting it out.
Other causes of fluorosis include: taking supplements containing fluoride, drinking fluoride-fortified fruit juices, drinking fluoridated water and fluorinated soft drinks.
Fluoride is naturally found in water, and in communities where the water is fortified with fluoride, the chances of fluorosis rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends giving children alternate sources of water if the natural levels of fluoride exceed 2 parts per million (ppm).
In 2011 in the United States, cases of fluorosis prompted the Health and Human Services Department to lower the recommended level of fluoride in the drinking water to prevent the exposure of too much fluoride in children.
What are the symptoms of fluorosis?
The symptoms of fluorosis are:
- White specks on teeth
- Dark brown stains
- Pitting of enamel
- White spots on teeth
If fluoride is ingested by children over a small period of time, it causes symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
What are the treatment options for fluorosis?
In mild to moderate cases of fluorosis, no treatment is mandated. However, there are techniques provided by the dental care providers that helps to mask stains and improve the texture of teeth. These techniques include:
- Crowning of teeth
- Veneers, especially for the front teeth thereby helping to improve the appearance. These veneers are custom-made shells used in case of severe fluorosis.
- Bonding and coating the tooth with hard resin helps to improve the pitted look of the tooth due to fluorosis.
- Teeth whitening by professionals helps to remove the stains due to fluorosis. Bleaching, on the other hand, is not recommended for dealing with fluorosis as that can worsen these stains.
- Another way to deal with discoloration is through calcium phosphate-based paste, combined with micro-abrasion, which minimizes the specks caused by fluorosis.
How to prevent fluorosis?
The key to prevention of fluorosis is through parental vigilance as many children end up in the emergency room every year due to fluoride toxicity. Some measures that parents can take to prevent fluorosis include:
Infancy to 3 years of age
During this age, fluorosis can be prevented by breastfeeding and when the children are old enough, cleaning teeth twice a day under supervision so they use appropriate amounts of toothpaste. In this age group, the recommended amount of toothpaste is just a smear, the size of a rice grain.
For children between 3 to 8 years old
In this age group, children should continue brushing their teeth twice daily, with fluoride toothpaste not more than pea-sized amounts. When brushing, parents should supervise their children and educate them to not swallow the toothpaste or any fluoride product.
For children under the age of six, fluoride mouth rinses are not advised by experts like Best Dentist in Islamabad.