If you have children, it is imperative that you learn as much as possible about the oral health condition referred to by dentists as “dental fluorosis”. While considered to be a cosmetic condition, dental fluorosis has the ability to detrimentally impact the health of your child’s teeth.

This oral health condition is caused by an overexposure to various forms of fluoride during the first seven to eight years of a child’s life. It is, during this time, that a large portion of the permanent teeth are undergoing formation. Once these teeth emerge, a child that has dental fluorosis has teeth that are considered to be mildly discolored. Throughout history, it has been believed that large amounts of fluoride were beneficial to the teeth; however, in recent years, it has been established that this is a myth. In fact, large amounts of fluoride may actually prove to be exceptionally damaging to the dental health.

If you are a parent, continue reading for valuable information that may help you reduce the possibility of your child being exposed to too much fluoride.

The Symptoms
As previously mentioned, the main symptom of dental fluorosis is a mild discoloration of the teeth. In most instances, this discoloration may be white and lace-like. In fact, some cases are so mild that only a professionally-trained dentist will be able to identify the discoloration. In addition to mild discoloration, the other symptoms commonly seen in kids that have dental fluorosis include the following:

  • Many children may have very noticeable stains on the teeth. In some instances, the stains may be a light yellow color. In more severe cases, the stains may be dark brown.
  • Many children that have been diagnosed with dental fluorosis have irregularities on the surfaces of their teeth.
  • Finally, the next symptom of dental fluorosis is highly noticeable pit-like structures on the surfaces of the teeth.

Exposure to Fluoride
It is ideal for a child to have a mild amount of exposure to fluoride. In fact, it is necessary to strengthen the teeth and ensure optimal dental health; however, in today’s world, there are several ways that a kid may experience too much exposure to fluoride. The following outlines the most common sources of fluoride:

  • Today, parents may purchase water that contains fluoride.
  • Nearly all toothpastes and mouthwashes have a certain degree of fluoride. Many children enjoy the tastes associated with these products. As a result, they will swallow the fluoride instead of spitting it out.
  • Many dentists may prescribe a fluoride supplement for certain children.
  • Many homes reside in areas where access to city water is unlimited. In some instances, the city may add fluoride to the drinking water.

As a parent, it is important that you take steps to reduce the amount of fluoride exposure that your child has in and around the home. First, you may start by calling your local water utility company and finding out how much fluoride is currently in your water. If you find that the water has no fluoride, you may purchase over-the-counter water that includes it and you may ask your dentist if supplements are required. When purchasing toothpaste and mouthwash, fluoride is essential to help in preventing cavities; however, in order to avoid a child leaving the products in their mouth too long or swallowing the product, you should avoid special flavors. If you have any further questions about dental fluorosis or would like to see if your child has had too much exposure to fluoride, you may contact us at Richmond Family Dentistry by calling: 765-962-3000