Fluoride is an essential mineral when it comes to oral health. We’ve all heard our dentist talk about it and many of us know that our tap water is enhanced with it, but have you ever considered that there may be too much of a good thing? When it comes to fluoride, there is a recommended amount to consume and this amount is especially important when it comes to the wellbeing of our children. Although consuming too much fluoride won’t cause lasting health effects, it can result in a condition known as fluorosis. If you’re curious to learn more about this fluoride phenomenon, keep reading to get the facts in order!
What is fluorosis?
Everyone knows that humans will have two sets of teeth in our life: baby teeth and permanent teeth. But what many do not realize is that our permanent adult teeth are forming in our jaws as we are children. As these permanent teeth form, an excess of fluoride in the body can cause them to develop white or brown spots or discoloration on their surface. The intensity of fluorosis can range from being mild and hard to notice to causing surface irregularities on the teeth. Fluorosis will only develop while the teeth are forming and cannot happen after they have erupted into the mouth. It is important to note that fluorosis is simply a cosmetic condition and not a disease or illness. Many cases of fluorosis are a result of a child repeatedly swallowing toothpaste or of them consuming fluoride supplements when the water they drink is already fluorinated.
What are the symptoms?
In many cases, only a dentist can detect fluorosis. This condition usually presents as small white spots or lines on the surface of the tooth. In the most extreme cases, teeth can become pitted and uneven and have gray, brown, or black spots that form. Unfortunately, the effects of fluorosis are permanent, however cosmetic options may be available to help alter the appearance of teeth later in life.
How can fluorosis be avoided?
If you have a young child under the age of 6 or 7, it is important to monitor their exposure to fluoride. Use only a small, pea sized amount of toothpaste on their brush and encourage them to spit out their toothpaste instead of swallowing it. Some parents may find that using a flavor of toothpaste such as mint may be less enticing to swallow than a flavor such as bubblegum. Additionally, keep any fluoride containing mouthwashes or rinses out of reach of your children.
The fear of fluorosis should not be enough to keep fluoride out of your child’s oral health regimen. Fluoride is an integral component to a healthy mouth and strong enamel. However, if you are concerned about overdoing it, do not hesitate to talk to your dentist about the proper amount of fluoride to incorporate into your child’s routine!
To schedule a consultation or checkup, give us a call at TruBlu Dentistry in Burbank, Chicago, or Hegewisch today!