What is Fluorosis?
Fluorosis is a cosmetic dental condition that causes the tooth enamel to be softer or hypocalcified usually
due to the presence of excess fluoride during the formation of enamel. The over exposure of children to
fluoride during the first 8-10 years of their life, especially the time of formation of permanent teeth causes
fluorosis. Fluorosis is also called Dental Fluorosis.

Fluoride is an important mineral, which helps to fight the bacteria that dwell in our mouth. The sugars and
acids from the food that we eat combine with bacteria and damage the tooth enamel and cause tooth
decay. In most cases, Fluorosis does not cause pain neither does it affect the functioning of the tooth.

The major causes of Fluorosis are:

  • Use of toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain fluoride.
  • Sometimes children might like the taste of toothpaste so much so that they would swallow it
    rather than spit it out.
  • Consumption or intake higher dosage of the prescribed fluoride supplement.
  • Higher than normal levels of fluoride in the drinking water.

The patients might show the following changes in their teeth that can be symptoms of fluorosis:

  • Slight changes in enamel ranging from white flecks to white spots.
  • Tiny opaque paper white areas spread over the surface of tooth.
  • Opaque surface cover over more than half of the tooth surface.
  •  Pitting occurs on the tooth surface.
  • Dark brown stains. 

Fluorosis attack is usually mild and in some cases, they appear at the back of the teeth, which doesn’t
require any treatment. Some of the techniques used to treat fluorosis are:

  • The dentists usually try improving the appearance of the teeth by masking the stains as part of the
    treatment. Some of the stain removing procedures includes tooth-whitening techniques.
  • Bonding that adheres a bonding resin to the tooth.
  • Dental Crowns
  • Veneers are used in cases of severe fluorosis. These are custom-made shells covering the front of
    the teeth.
  • MI paste or a product of calcium phosphate along with microabrasion techniques can help minimize the discolouration. 

Parents have to remain vigilant in order to prevent their children from contracting fluorosis. Some of the
prevention measures that dentists usually recommend for parents to follow are:

  • Supervise the children while brushing so that they do not use and swallow too much of toothpaste or mouth rinse.
  • Care should also be taken that children under the age of 3 should only use a smear of toothpaste whereas those above 3 up to the age of 6 may use pea size amount of toothpaste. Tooth brushing should be limited up to 2 times for this age group.

  • If the water being used in the household is from the public water system, then the fluoride content need to be analyzed for presence of excessive fluorides. The amount of fluoride consumed from the drinking water and soft drinks will help analyze on whether the child needs fluoride supplements to be administered. This can be done after consultation with the dentist.
  • Keep all the fluoridated products such as toothpastes and mouth rinses out of reach of children. If a child consumes excess amount of fluoridated products he or she might symptoms like nausea, diarrhea and vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • Regular visits to the dentist are recommended in order to check the condition of the teeth. The dentist will examine for any issues with the teeth, the oral hygiene regime that needs to be followed and also the fluoride content in the teeth.

Authored By Dr Sanjay N - Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopaedics, Bangalore

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