Dental fluorosis is a condition that young children aged 8 and younger can develop from an overabundance of fluoride in the body. The enamel of the teeth begins to show an excess of porosity where it breaks down and leaves the tooth at risk for erosion or deterioration. Although the cosmetic aspects of this condition can be corrected through dental treatments, damaged enamel is permanent and can’t be repaired.
If you suspect your child is suffering from dental fluorosis there are visible indications on the teeth that might confirm your concerns. In light to moderate cases, there will be noticeable white spots, cloudy splotches, or pale streaks.
In severe cases, the teeth will be badly stained with dark spots. This is the enamel showing significant wear and tear and your child’s dentist will be able to tell you how significant the damage appears and what steps can be taken to correct their appearance.
What Causes Fluorosis?
When a child has elevated levels of fluoride in his or her system that can have a negative effect on the teeth. There are a number of possible ways in which fluoride levels can increase enough to result in fluorosis. Mothers who drink high amounts of fluoridated drinking water can pass it on to their unborn fetus.
Children who brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste are also at risk. Young children have a tough time keeping themselves from swallowing toothpaste while they brush and if they don’t spit after they brush, they can ingest more fluoride than is healthy.
Processed foods that are made using fluoridated water can also have an effect on the child’s health and teeth and if you are worried about fluoride intake, you should be sure to check the foods you serve to your child before allowing him or her to consume them.
Preventing Dental Fluorosis
You can take a few steps to keep your child from ingesting too much fluoride. For children under the age of 2, refrain from using fluoride toothpaste unless directed by a dentist or doctor. Children older than 2 years who are using fluoride toothpaste should do so no more than twice a day. Apply very little at the time of brushing, no more than the size of a pea.
Always instruct your child to spit out their toothpaste and not to swallow it when they brush. This will limit their fluoride intake and help you prevent fluorosis.