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Fluorosis

Overview:

Permanent (adult) teeth form beneath the primary (baby) teeth in your jaw throughout early childhood, and usually erupt into the mouth went the baby tooth in that area is lost. At the age of 8, the crowns of the adult teeth are formed fully, with some already present in the mouth. The crown of the tooth, is that portion that is visible in the mouth. However, the wisdom teeth (or third molars) do not form until early adulthood.

Too much fluoride in the diet during the period of development of the teeth can bring about fluorosis. Fluorosis can cause white, yellow, and brown spots of discolouration on the tooth enamel. Fluorosis can vary from these minor colour changes to irregularities in the enamel surface. After the teeth are present in the mouth, fluorosis no longer develops.

Fluorosis is more of a cosmetic problem, and not a dental disease. Sometimes, fluorosis is so minor that only your dentist see the problem. Most fluorosis cases occur due to children swallowing their fluoridated toothpaste or taking fluoride supplements when they are already drinking fluoridated water.

Warning Signs:

Fluorosis can cause white, yellow, gray, brown and/or black spots of discolouration on the tooth enamel. Fluorosis can vary from these minor colour changes to irregularities in the enamel surface. Fluorosis may also cause pitting, streaking, or large enamel deformities.

Identification:

Determining whether the unusual coloured spots and/or enamel deformities that are present on yours or your child's teeth are the result of fluorosis, the dentist and/or dental hygienist will review fluoride intake. A medical history will also be taken, in order to see if the discolourations are due to past or present medical conditions, disabilities, or medications. The dentist will perform a complete dental examination and take radiographs to look for other problems that you or your child may have, such as dental caries or gum disease.

There are other conditions and syndromes that can affect enamel and/or dentin development. Also, increased body temperature or injuries in infants and younger children can discolour their teeth. Any type of tooth discolouration should be check by a dentist.

Normal Period of Time:

The discolouration, stains or spot due to fluorosis are permanent, and they can get darker with time.

Avoidance:

Children less than 6 years old, should only use a pea size drop of toothpaste on their brush, and watch then carefully. Make sure that they spit the toothpaste out and not swallow it. You should avoid buying toothpastes that are flavored, as your children may want to swallow it. Keep all of the fluoride-containing products that are in your house away from children.

The addition of fluoride to community drinking water supplies has been a great preventive measure. Children should only take fluoride supplements if your drinking water contains too little fluoride. The fluoride concentration in your drinking water should be checked if you are not sure if it is fluoridated. You can check with your local health department or water company prior to your child beginning the fluoride supplements. Your dentist can also find out if your drinking water has enough fluoride, or call your local government to obtain a list of certified laboratories that can check your drinking water for fluoride. You should check with your child's dentist or pediatrician before giving your child any type of fluoride supplement.

Several beverages and foods have fluoride already in them. Many soft drinks and fruit juices contain fluoride levels that are in line with fluoridated drinking water, and some bottled water companies are also adding fluoride to their water. The fluoride consumed during the day can add up, and its important that you know the your child�s daily fluoride consumption.

Management:

Fluorosis does not cause dental caries, and is only an aesthetic concern. Most dental procedures performed for teeth with fluorosis usually consists of just covering up the stains on the teeth.

Numerous fluorosis cases are so small that they do not require treatment. Other times, fluorosis only occurs on the posterior teeth and isn't easily noticed. However, the serious cases that involve and anterior (i.e., front) teeth may involve teeth whitening, bonding, veneers, and/or crowns

Call your Dentist:

Contact your child's dentist if you notice any spots, discolouration, or abnormalities on their teeth.

Projection:

Teeth with fluorosis aren't diseased, and do not have dental caries or other problems. The main concerns are cosmetic, which can be treated with teeth whitening, bonding, veneers, and/or crowns.