Dental fluorosis is a chronic condition that is caused by excessive intake of fluoride in young children when most of the permanent teeth are being formed. Once teeth erupt through the gums, fluorosis cannot develop.
Fluorosis isn’t a disease and doesn’t affect the health of your teeth. It is a cosmetic condition characterized by change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel. These changes can vary from barely noticeable white spots in mild forms to staining and pitting in the more severe forms.
The common sources of fluoride include:
- Toothpaste (if swallowed by young children).
- Drinking water in fluoridated communities.
- Dietary prescription supplements that include fluoride (e.g., tablets or drops).
- Other professional dental products (e.g., mouth rinses, gels, and foams).
Parents can follow these three guidelines to reduce the occurrence of dental fluorosis:
- Proper use of dental products such as toothpaste and mouthwash
- Children younger than age 3 should use a “smear” of toothpaste containing fluoride.
- Limit tooth brushing to 2 times a day for this age group.
- Children aged 3-6 years should use a slightly larger, “pea-sized” amount of toothpaste containing fluoride.
- Supervise and help young children with tooth brushing.
- Avoid use of mouthwash in children younger than age 6
- Keep all dental products out of the reach of young children to avoid accidental ingestion.
- Determine whether your primary source of water is fluoridated.
- Start regular visits to the dentist by your child’s first birthday.