Fluorosis, once called “Colorado Brown Stain,” was first studied in the early 1900s in Colorado Springs. The new dentist in town was shocked by the dark brown stains and pockmarks on the teeth of the native townspeople. Research revealed that the stains were caused by excessively high levels of fluoride in the local water supply. Not surprisingly, the citizens also had high resistance to cavities.
Toddlers between 20 and 30 months old may later develop Fluorosis if they’re exposed to too much fluoride during that time. That is the age when most permanent teeth are forming deep beneath the gum. If a child hasn’t developed the condition by age 7 or 8, he won’t; the teeth have matured by then.
Mild cases of Fluorosis are barely noticeable. Permanent teeth may come in slightly discolored, or a dentist may detect thin, white markings that are nearly invisible to others. The condition also causes irregularities in texture. The tooth surface may be covered with tiny indentations for a rough, grainy feel. Healthy teeth really are “pearly whites,” being consistent in color and having a smooth, polished shine.
Determining the Severity of Flourosis
Dentists determine the severity of Fluorosis by measuring the percentage of effected tooth surface. In the worst cases, all surface areas are stained or pocked; shades of staining range from pale yellow to deep brown. Pits on the tooth surface are evident and hard to keep clean.
But such cases are very rare. It’s also important to know that Fluorosis is not a disease—it’s merely a condition, a symptom of something else that’s gone wrong. There is no pain associated with Fluorosis, but people who have discolored or pitted teeth may suffer embarrassment or be reluctant to smile.
Fluoride is naturally present in some foods, soil, minerals and mostly, water. Levels in water are typically low; the escalated amounts in Colorado Springs were unusual. In the early 60s, the U.S. government passed initiatives to add fluoride to drinking water—and tooth decay has declined ever since. While fluoride is beneficial for preventing cavities, excessive levels can produce undesirable side effects like Fluorosis. Since scientists now know more about fluoride, they can manipulate it to ideal levels in public water supplies.
At home, parents can monitor fluoride exposure to prevent Fluorosis. Most communities have safe and beneficial amounts of fluoride in their water sources. If there is no need to supplement fluoride, avoid giving your children fluoridated juice, sodas and bottled water at home. Many toothpaste brands manufactured for children are so tasty that kids don’t want to rinse and spit them out. And due to advertising images, almost everyone uses far too much toothpaste. For babies and toddlers, a thin smear is appropriate. Kids 5 or older should use a pea-sized amount, at most. Mouthwash, especially if it contains fluoride, should be diluted with water and not held for more than thirty seconds before spitting.
Talk to TLC Dentistry | Salinas, CA
For the best education on Fluorosis, talk to a dentist. Make an appointment at TLC Dentistry in Salinas, CA, for information about the prevention and treatment of Fluorosis.