Tooth Discolouration: Understanding Dental Fluorosis

Posted on: 18 September 2017


Permanent teeth begin forming during early childhood. The crowns form within the jawbone and underneath the gum in preparation for visible growth after the milk teeth fall out. If a child is exposed to too much fluoride during their childhood, the growing teeth will sustain damage. The disorder which occurs due to the ingestion of this mineral is known as fluorosis. The condition is quite common, and it cosmetic, not functional. 

Fluorosis is characterised by different levels of intrinsic tooth discolouration. In mild cases, the damage is not noticeable, though there will be some white patches on the enamel. Severe cases of fluorosis can manifest as brown to black staining of the teeth or unusual dental texture. If you are concerned about the presence or risk of fluorosis in your or your child, consider this short discussion on the critical elements of the disorder

Cause of Excess Fluoridation 

As mentioned, fluorosis is caused by ingestion of excess fluoride during early childhood. Unfortunately, numerous parents are unaware that their children are consuming too much fluoride. If you have a young one in your care, it is important to monitor their intake of this mineral. The exposure can come from drinking water with too much fluoride. Taking too much supplement for this compound can also have the same result. Also, the problem might arise if a child is drinking fluoridated water and taking supplements concurrently. Additionally, swallowing fluoride toothpaste can accelerate fluorosis. 

Minimising the Risk of Fluorosis 

The most efficient way to manage fluorosis in the family is to prevent the occurrence of the disorder. Therefore, you should ensure that the consumption of fluoride remains at acceptable levels. If you drink water from the tap, you should inquire about the fluoride levels from the utility provider. Discuss the details with your dentist; if the percentage is too high or too low, they will recommend alternative water sources. Fluoride supplements are endorsed for healthy teeth growth if the water supply is not fluoridated. However, you should not provide these to your child without approval. Finally, supervise your kids' oral hygiene routine to minimise toothpaste swallowing. 

Treatment Options

The damage sustained by the dental enamel due to fluorosis is permanent. However, there are cosmetic procedures for improving the visual impact of the teeth. If there is minimal evidence of fluorosis, you can leave the teeth untreated. For more severe cases, dental bonding and veneers will mask the damage. The latter will cover the discoloured surfaces with porcelain veneers while bonding involves concealing the teeth with white composite resin. 

For more information or assistance, contact a local cosmetic dentist.