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This is a rare problem that occurs due to too much contact with fluoride as a child while the teeth are still developing.  It can only affect children between the ages of one and four as the permanent teeth are developing, and after the age of eight it is unlikely that too much fluoride will affect the teeth.  Fluorosis can lead to the permanent marking of teeth, leaving discoloured marks on the enamel. 

Symptoms of Fluorosis

The most noticeable side effect of too much fluoride is the staining of the enamel of the teeth in the form of brown or yellow spots.  These can be hardly noticeable to being very large, in the most extreme cases turning to black or grey pits.  Small cases of fluorosis are hardly noticeable so that only your dentist will see them, although over time it is likely that they will darken in appearance. 

Fluorosis is not a disease as such, and the discolourations are the only effects of having too much fluoride at a young age.  After the age of eight years old your child is very unlikely to get fluorosis.

Avoiding Fluorosis

Fluorosis is quite a rare condition, and can only really occur if your child is heavily exposed to fluoride.  Only a couple of places in England have water containing enough fluoride to grant caution necessary – parts of Essex and Hartlepool, and really there is only a slight risk of fluorosis.  The most common reason for fluorosis is children swallowing toothpaste on a regular basis, and it is important to ensure that they do not do this.  Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to ensure there isn’t too much being used and it might be helpful to avoid sweet flavoured toothpastes to deter your child from swallowing.  It is also important to check that any fluoride supplements are being taken accordingly and that soft drinks containing fluoride aren’t drunk to excess.

Diagnosing Fluorosis

Any discolouration of the teeth ought to be checked out by a dentist as there are conditions more serious than fluorosis that could be the cause.  To ensure that it is fluorosis you will be asked questions regarding your childs’ health, diet, oral hygiene and whether or not they are exposed to fluoride in water, toothpaste or supplements. 

Your dentist will give your child an examination and it is possible that they will also take some X-rays to search for other defects in the teeth. 

Fluorosis Treament

Generally the marks caused by fluorosis are very small, and hardly visible and often occurs only on the back teeth.  This means that treatment for them is not necessary.  Sometimes front teeth will be treated using whitening or cosmetic treatments, extreme cases can be crowned or fitted with dental veneers.

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