Young children who ingest excessive amounts of fluoride can develop teeth with dental fluorosis. Fluorosis is a defect in the tooth enamel that causes discolouration and increased porosity. Approximately 32 per cent of American children have some form of fluorosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fixing and preventing fluorosis can be relatively simple.
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Things you need
- Tooth-whitening treatment (optional)
- Tooth-restoration treatment (optional)
Look for signs of dental fluorosis. Although mild cases may produce no visible signs on your child's teeth, moderate to severe fluorosis causes white lines, streaks or spots, as well as pitting of the teeth, misshapen enamel and brown, black or grey spots.
Visit your dentist for a diagnosis. Your dentist will take X-rays and examine your child's teeth and gums to rule out other dental conditions and defects that may look like fluorosis. Your dentist will need to know your child's exposure to fluoride, including toothpaste containing fluoride, fluoridated water consumption and fluoride supplements. If your dentist diagnoses your child with fluorosis, he may suggest cosmetic treatments, depending on the severity.
Get teeth-whitening treatments. Although many cases of dental fluorosis are mild enough to not require treatment, tooth whitening may be an option, to remove stains on the enamel of the front teeth.
Consider tooth restorations for severe cases of fluorosis. Your dentist may recommend bonding, crowns or veneers, if whitening is not enough to correct the affects of fluorosis.
Heed prevention measures. Be aware of your child's fluoride intake, especially while he is under the age of 6. Make sure your child uses only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and spits instead of swallowing after brushing his teeth. Have your dentist or local health department check your water for fluoride levels before allowing your child to take fluoride supplements.
Tips and warnings
- Remember that while the tooth discolouration from dental fluorosis is permanent, the teeth are not diseased. The concerns associated with fluorosis are usually cosmetic.
- Don't allow your child to drink too much fruit juices, soft drinks or bottled water. Many of these beverages contain fluoride levels close to that of fluoridated water.
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