Dental fluorosis occurs in young children under the age of 8.

It is the appearance of faint white spots or streaks on their teeth.

Though it can get worse and the stains may appear to be yellow or dark brown in color.

As well as there can be irregularities in the surface and pits in the teeth.

The main cause of fluorosis is the high intake of fluoride during the early years.

Since this is also the time that permanent teeth appear, so these can remain on your child’s teeth unless you sought treatment.

This article discusses the causes, symptoms and treatment of fluorosis so that you can detect it immediately in your child and prevent it from worsening.

dental fluorosis types

Dental Fluorosis Types

The types of fluorosis depend on its extent.

It is the hypo calcification of the enamel when the tooth enamel does not receive enough calcium.

The lower than normal calcification causes the white lines to appear on your child’s teeth.

These lines and spots signify softer enamel.

However, what accompanies it sometimes is discoloration.

While symptoms like white spots or scattered specks can be hard to notice, it can also go as far as having dark brown stains and a rough enamel.

The enamel has pits and is difficult to clean.

That said, your child’s normal teeth should look white and glossy with a pale cream color.

Your child’s baby teeth may show signs of very mild to mild fluorosis.

However, it can happen in both baby and permanent teeth continuing well into adulthood.

The mild symptoms include white spots or an opaque area that covers less than half of the surface of the tooth.

In very mild discoloration these white spots are only less than a quarter of the tooth.

These are not uniform but are scattered around in the tooth’s surface.

You may not be able to identify it when there are a few white spots and lines on the tooth.

However, in moderate fluorosis, the white specks are fairly visible as they cover more than 50 percent of the surface of the tooth.

While in severe cases, the enamel surfaces will become rough.

They will also have pits and the discoloration will go from white to yellow or brown.

This condition can cost you your self-esteem and comfort.

If your child grows with such teeth, they may also experience bullying.

But where do they come from? Let’s find out below!

child brushing teeth

Causes

The enamel layers of your child’s teeth form before their adult teeth erupt from their gums.

Your child cannot get it after their permanent teeth erupt.

Mild fluorosis is subtle enough for only the dentist to notice.

It does not affect your oral health but your appearance.

The main cause is the use of fluoride in:

  • Fluoridated Water
  • Toothpaste
  • Formula Milk
  • Fluoride Mouthrinses
  • Fluoride Supplement

It happens before your child is less than 8 years old before adult teeth eruption and can even happen when they are 1 to 2 years of age when baby teeth erupt.

Fluoride is safe to use, however, only moderately.

It can protect your child’s teeth from tooth decay and cavity.

Hence, you should limit the overconsumption of fluoride especially if it is present in your drinking water.

Fluoride is present naturally inside water but if the amount increases over 2 parts per million then it is better to give children non fluoridated water.

The use of fluoride toothpaste and fluoride mouthwashes are also responsible for this discoloration and hypo calcification.

Children tend to like the taste of fluoride toothpaste, so they may even swallow it without your knowledge rather than spitting it.

Moreover, children who drink formula milk also have a higher risk of getting fluorosis.

The powder combines with the fluoridated water giving them an excess of fluoride.

Furthermore, if your child ever took a higher supplement of fluoride in their childhood, then they will get these spots and lines.

Hence, an excess amount of fluoride causes it.

However, these spots do not indicate enamel weakness rather the enamel is strongest there.

Children aged 12 to 15 commonly have this condition.

Though only 2 percent are mild and 1 percent are severe.

There are treatments available to get rid of these marks.

treating teeth with dental fluorosis

Dental Fluorosis Treatment

You will not require treatment for very mild or mild cases.

As long as you stop using fluoride then you will no longer need treatment or see spots.

Furthermore, they may only affect the backside of your or your child’s teeth.

Since they do not pose any health problem then if they are not visible, you do not need to treat it either.

However, if you have moderate to severe signs then you may want to undergo treatments that remove stains

Teeth Whitening

These are surface stains that teeth whitening procedures may remove.

However, bleaching your teeth can also worsen the appearance of stains.

Dental teeth whitening procedures usually use a bleaching agent.

Hence, consult with your dentist what is the safest procedure for you.

You may also want to try teeth whitening home remedies to see if it works on the stains,

However, getting a dental procedure is your safest bet.

Veneers

The teeth shells known as veneers, cover the front of your teeth.

Hence, they can hide the damage caused by this condition.

The color of these shells matches the rest of your teeth hence you can cover the stains without it prominently standing out.

The colors will merge with the rest of your teeth, looking completely natural.

You should go for these only in severe cases.

Bonding and Crowns

Dental bonding involves coating the tooth with a hard resin.

This resin bonds with the enamel covering it completely.

Moreover, a dental crown goes on top of a tooth.

Hence, both these procedures cover the tooth so that the damage is no longer visible.

MI Paste 

This paste treats discoloration with the use of microabrasion.

It releases calcium and phosphate ions to stabilize and calcify the Amorphous Calcium Phosphate.

You can apply it daily as it is sugar-free.

child brushing teeth with mother

Prevention

You can definitely prevent the condition in young children if you can control their fluoride use.

Ask your public health department about the amount of fluoride in your tap water.

If you use bottled water then get it tested from a public laboratory to know its fluoride content.

Then once you have the metrics, analyze how much fluoride should your child get ideally.

It is essential to use some fluoride to prevent decay but not an excess of it.

However, remember to keep it away from children as they can ingest a large amount causing diarrhea and vomiting.

Take your child to the emergency room if this happens.

In order to prevent fluorosis, you need to take some measures from the beginning.

For a child younger than 3 years old, breastfeed them instead of giving formula milk.

It is not only good for their growth but also for their teeth.

Formula milk when combined with high fluoridated water can expose your child to fluoride too soon.

If this continues for the first 3 years of their life, they may develop fluorosis.

Instead, children should get breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months and combine it with solid foods till at least 12 months of age.

If your child can only take formula milk then ask your dentist and doctor about the safest option.

As soon as their teeth start coming, begin brushing and flossing.

Maintain a brushing routine of doing it twice a day.

Teach them how to spit so that they do not swallow the toothpaste.

Moreover, remember to only use toothpaste equivalent to the size of a grain of rice.

To prevent them from swallowing toothpaste, do not buy a flavored toothpaste that your child is likely to swallow.

family brushing teeth together and taking care of dental care

Dental Care For Children Over 3 Years

Children are likely to get dental fluorosis at 1 or 2 years or before 8 years of age.

Both these are times when their teeth erupt, baby or permanent.

Continue brushing your baby’s teeth.

They still do not have enough dexterity to hold their toothbrush and brush properly.

Hence, you should continue doing it or if they can hold it then at least supervise them.

Do not give them more than a pea size of toothpaste.

Moreover, do not use fluoride mouth rinses or mouthwashes yet.

Children do not develop their swallowing reflexes before they are six.

Hence, they are quite likely to swallow rather than spit the mouth wash.

You can even prevent them from swallowing toothpaste by using an unflavored one that they will want to spit and supervise their brushing routine.

If your child is taking enough fluoride in water, fluoride fortified juices then you do not need to give them additional fluoride supplements.

These are commonly used by people who do not have fluoridated water to prevent cavities.

However, they can also lead to an excess of fluoride.

Your child may no longer drink formula milk by this age, however, if they still do it is time to shift them on the regular milk.

Finally, 

You can prevent dental fluorosis in your child by limiting their fluoride intake.

It is much better to prevent it than to get extensive dental treatments to cover it.

Just keep a check on your child’s fluoride intake and take them to the dentist when you start seeing white spots on their teeth.

It could either be due to dental fluorosis or cavities.