Fluorosis (Or: Why Are My Child’s Teeth the Color of Mud?)

If you’re looking at your child’s mouth and notice thick, opaque white lines or patterns on their teeth, or worse, pitting or extreme discoloration that ranges from slightly yellow to dark brown, it’s easy to worry and think it’s an emergency. In most cases, it’s not. Rather, these symptoms are signs of fluorosis, a cosmetic condition caused by overexposure to fluoride during the first eight years of life.  Although it looks bad, there’s no loss of functionality, but the blow it deals to your child’s self-esteem can be devastating. Treatment involves whitening and polishing the teeth or masking the staining — something your child’s dentist can do with ease.

What Is Fluorosis?

Some amount of fluoride is good: it helps tooth enamel stay strong and healthy. But overexposure to fluoride can cause problems — and not the kind Suzy the Conspiracy Theorist Mom brings up at the tail end of PTA meetings. Fluoride isn’t going to cause a loss of executive function or developmental delays, as unfounded water-cooler rumors might suggest. Fluorosis is simply a cosmetic condition that causes discoloration and visible roughness of the teeth. Approximately one in every four Americans has it, and it’s usually so mild that only your dentist notices.

But moderate or severe cases, usually caused by overuse of fluoride supplements or excessive use of fluoride-containing toothpastes and mouth rinses, can cause unsightly yellow or brown staining on teeth. And for a child who’s still growing and developing a healthy sense of self-esteem, this condition can cause major anxiety

How Can I Prevent it?

Prevention of fluorosis is largely a matter of monitoring your child’s habits. Ensuring their teeth are brushed twice daily from the time they come in is a good start. As your child grows, making sure they use a small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste and don’t swallow goes a long way in preventing this unsightly condition. Unless otherwise recommended by your dentist, avoid fluoride-containing rinses or fluoride supplements for your child. Public drinking water naturally contains an appropriate amount of fluoride to keep young pearly whites strong and healthy without the need for added amounts from other sources.

How Is Fluorosis Treated?

Treatment options for fluorosis involve removing, reducing or masking the staining caused by fluoride overexposure. Teeth-whitening treatments can help, but you need to make an appointment with your dentist to discuss the best options for your child’s teeth — at-home treatments and over-the-counter products have the potential to make the problem worse. Your dentist is also able to gently polish and smooth away any unevenness or pitting that’s the result of fluorosis.

In cases where teeth-whitening is not optimal, your dentist may recommend crowns, veneers or bonding to hide the effect of fluorosis. These treatments hide the imperfections but aren’t suitable for everyone.

How We Can Help

Booking an appointment is the first step to getting rid of the low self-esteem that’s an unfortunate side effect of fluorosis. After a checkup, a cleaning and the formation of a treatment plan to get your child’s smile as dazzling as possible, they’ll be well on their way to having a set of pearly whites to flash for school picture day, their next big sporting event or the next family function.

The offices of Drs. Krieger and Hur make cosmetic dentistry easy and convenient, often completing procedures the same day! When your smile needs perfecting, but your time is limited, give us a call at 201-560-0606 or email us here and we’ll get you fast-tracked back to eye-catching confidence.

We heard your selfies could be a lot better, so we wrote a “How to Take a Great Selfie” guide to help you show off our great handywork. It’ll be our little secret! You don’t have to tell anyone that your dentist helped you perfect those iconic social media images.  

Just click here, enter your email and download the PDF. Nothing could be easier.  While you’re at it, go ahead and sign up for our newsletter for more tips for keeping that smile white and bright.

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