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Everything You Need to Know about Dental Fluorosis – Part I

Dental fluorosis affects the cosmetic appearance of your teeth permanently. Although it doesn’t hamper normal teeth functioning, it modifies your beautiful smile. In today’s post, we’ll discuss dental fluorosis in detail, including its symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention.

What is Dental Fluorosis?

This condition first attracted medical attention in the 20th century as the Colorado Brown Stain that was detected on the teeth of natives in Colorado Springs. After thorough studies and research, it was determined that the reason behind the condition is associated with high levels of fluoride exposure. There were high levels of fluoride in the water supply in the region and the people affected by the dental condition were surprisingly found to have exceptional resistance to tooth cavities and decay.

Since the 1930s, dentists have been researching the condition. When one is internally exposed to high levels of fluoride, the normal tooth mineralization process is hampered. It results in reduced mineral content or hypomineralization of the tooth enamel causing an increased level of porosity. These changes start altering the appearance of the affected tooth first and may then spread on to other teeth.

Fluorosis is most prevalent among between the ages of 12-15 years old. Teeth affected by this dental condition become mildly discoloured with intrinsic signs of white markings. In advanced stages, teeth may gain yellow or brown patches on the enamel, highly noticeable pits, and surface irregularities. It’s difficult to treat and can take a psychological toll on children and adolescents.

The Causes of Fluorosis

It’s caused by the systemic or internal overexposure of fluoride when the permanent teeth are being formed, especially during the first eight years of age. This can happen due to inappropriate use of dental products containing fluorides such as toothpaste and mouthwashes. Many children without parental oversight swallow toothpaste instead of spitting it out as they enjoy the taste. This can lead to this dental condition over time.

Another major cause that can lead to fluorosis in children is ingesting a higher amount of fluoride than required. For example, if a child already consumes fluoridating drinks with the right amount of fluoride but also takes additional fluoride supplements, it can expose the body to higher levels of fluoride.

Natural fluoride levels in drinking water that are higher than recommended amounts can also aggravate the possibilities of severe fluorosis. According to studies, nearly 40% cases are caused by water fluoridation. Overexposure to other sources of fluoride such as pollution from high fluoride coal and compressed tea are the other causes of dental fluorosis.

In our next post, we’ll continue to discuss the symptoms or classifications, treatment, and prevention of dental fluorosis.