The Truth About Your Tooth

Helping Your Children Deal With Fluorosis

If your child has white or brown spots on his or her teeth, you may wonder if it's decay. A pediatric dentist can diagnose the issue, but what your child may have is fluorosis. Fluorosis is a harmless condition that only affects the appearance of teeth. However, fluorosis can significantly damage a child's self-esteem if he or she brushes and flosses well but still has discolored teeth. Read on to learn what causes it, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.

What causes it?

You may already know that fluoride is good for the development and maintenance of teeth since it strengthens enamel. But if a child has too much fluoride in the first eight years of his or her life, he or she can develop fluorosis. Fluorosis discolorations are caused by overexposure of fluoride as teeth are still developing; your child cannot get fluorosis once teeth have erupted.

What preventative measures can you take?

If your community has fluoridated water, you should ask your pediatric dentist about how much fluoride your child should ingest. He or she may not need fluoride tablets, certain kinds of toothpaste, or frequent fluoride varnish if he or she is already getting lots of fluoride from food and beverage sources.

Ask your dentist how much toothpaste your child needs to use and ask for brand recommendations. Some young children may use too much toothpaste for their age. Other children may like the taste of toothpaste, so they may end up ingesting it instead of spitting it out, which could cause fluorosis.

What treatments are available?

Some people get veneers or crowns when they are older, but these types of treatments usually aren't ideal for children while they are still growing. Thankfully, there are still some things you can do if your child has discolorations.

Your dentist could prescribe a dental dairy-protein cream, which is similar to toothpaste, but it has a lot of calcium phosphate which can reduce mild surface stains.

Tooth whitening doesn't always work on fluorosis because these stains aren't on the surface of the teeth. Instead, a dentist could perform enamel microabrasion, to take off small layers of the tooth to reduce discoloration. The dentist then could apply a bonding agent, which is a coat of resin that has an even color and bonds to the enamel.

If your child only has fluorosis on his or her baby teeth, then your dentist may ask your child to adjust his or her brushing habits and wait until the adult teeth come in. Since baby teeth eventually fall out, then your child may not need any cosmetic procedures on his or her adult teeth.

Reach out to a dentist for kids for more information.