Dental fluorosis occurs when developing teeth receive too much fluoride over an extended period of time. Mild fluorosis will cause tooth enamel to darken and discolor. Moderate to severe fluorosis will cause the enamel surface to develop brown patches.
Before you stop drinking the tap water, however, make sure you know the facts about fluoride and fluorosis.
- Only children 8 years and younger can develop dental fluorosis. Children over 8, adolescents and adults don’t have to worry about it.
- Fluorosis does not affect the health or function of the teeth. It is simply a cosmetic problem.
- Fluoride is a mineral found across the earth’s surface. It is also naturally present in most drinking waters.
- The fluoridation of community drinking water is one of the greatest achievements of 20th century medicine. The right dose of fluoride helps prevent cavities by strengthening tooth enamel.
To help prevent fluorosis, apply only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to your child’s toothbrush. You should also make sure that your child isn’t swallowing toothpaste. All fluoride-containing products (including mouthwashes) should be kept out of reach.
Children should also avoid taking fluoride supplements unless advised otherwise by a physician. In most communities, the drinking water combined with toothpaste and food items that contain fluoride will provide all the fluoride your child needs.