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Fluorosis causes stains

Fluorosis causes stains – When too much of something good becomes harmful

Whether fluoride does or does not help one’s teeth is one of those topics that keep emerging over and over again in newspapers, magazines, and even on TV. Many say that fluoride is great for teeth because it hardens the dental enamel. Others, however, are worried that too heavy usage may be poisonous. According to recent medical research, fluoride does indeed have a positive effect on dental health, if it is used properly. Still, there is an important risk that should be kept in mind: among children at the age of 8 or below, who oftentimes do not thoroughly spit out after rinsing, fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis which manifests itself in the form of irregular and unnaturally white stains on teeth. Though fluorosis is fortunately not harmful in the vast majority of cases, it can cause an aesthetically unfavorable appearance of the teeth among affected patients.

What are the causes of fluorosis?

Fluorosis can occur either on a few or on all of an affected patient’s teeth. Oftentimes, the most visible cases of fluorosis (e.g., on the upper front teeth) emerge among children who are exposed to an excessive amount of fluoride during the first 15 to 30 months of their lives. This can happen due to a multitude of reasons including the consumption of fluoridated water, fluoridated table salt, or of too many fluoride tablets. Even fluoride-containing toothpaste may cause fluorosis if parents start using it too early in their children’s lives.

Fluoride Toothpaste

Excessive amounts of fluoride can change the consistency of dental enamel and make it more porous which, in turn, causes the formation of white or even brown-ish stains on the teeth’s surface areas. Since such discolorations can look very similar to caries-producing stains, a careful and thorough examination by a trained dentist prior to any treatment-related decisions is an absolute necessity. 

How is fluorosis treated?

In general, fluorosis stains do not harm one’s dental health and could therefore remain untreated if it was not for their aesthetically unpleasing appearance. This optical challenge can become particularly problematic for children who may experience bullying by their classmates as a result. Therefore, the reasons for treating fluorosis are almost always related to aesthetic and not medical considerations. 

The most successful treatment method for fluorosis is a combination of dental bleaching and a so-called caries infiltration which uses micro-invasive technology to reinforce and stabilize demineralized enamel without the need for drilling. In cases of brown-ish fluorosis stains, even a dental bleaching by itself can produce great results. However, in cases of white fluorosis stains, a dental bleaching alone is in most cases not enough to completely solve the visual problem. In addition, according to a EU-wide guideline from 2013, dental bleachings are not allowed for young adults under the age of 18. Precisely for that reason, the so-called caries infiltration procedure is often the best bet for younger patients.  

Alright then – looks like today’s modern dentistry can provide a long-term solution for even the most obvious white stains. In that case, have fun smiling (and don’t forget to brush your teeth every day)!  

Don't forget: Thoroughly brush your teeth every day!

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