Pearly white teeth is a favorable trait for good personal appearance and proper dental hygiene. Many factors, however, can contribute to tooth decay or dental caries. One of these dental problems is fluorosis, which is a dental problem caused by having too much fluoride. Fluorosis looks unappealing, especially for people who value the appearance of their teeth. Here are some ways to treat and get rid of it.
What is Fluorosis?
Fluoride is an important substance in dental hygiene. Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel, as well as prevent cavities from forming in your teeth. Most toothpastes and tooth whitening products contain fluoride, and most drinking water supplied to homes are treated with fluoride. Before fluoridation (the process of adding fluoride to water), many people suffered from tooth decay; thanks to toothpaste and fluoridated water, instances of tooth decay and dental caries have dropped.
Too much fluoride, though, can result in unpleasant effects to the appearance of your teeth. Fluorosis is a condition where the tooth enamel becomes mottled and coated with an opaque white layer. Over time, the Fluorosis is common among children, although mild cases of the problem may be found in adults as well. Fluorosis usually attacks the back teeth, but some cases of fluorosis may affect the front teeth (particularly the canines and incisors). Over time, fluorosis weakens the enamel and the structure of the teeth, causing caries and decay.
Causes of Fluorosis
Fluorosis is primarily caused by two things:
- Excess fluoride. Fluorosis caused by excess fluoride may be a result of using big amounts of toothpaste, but not rinsing the stuff properly after washing. Fluorosis caused by fluoridated water is rare, but it can happen if there’s too much of the chemical added to your drinking water supply, or if you buy bottled water that contains too much of it.
- Poor dental hygiene. If you take care of your teeth well, you wouldn’t have a problem with dental caries caused in part by fluorosis. Fluorosis is often found in people with poor dental hygiene, because the fluoride can attack weakened teeth faster and accelerate the process of decay.
Lik almost every dental problem, fluorosis can be easily prevented with some simple tooth-friendly practices:
- Proper dental hygiene. Brushing your teeth for two minutes after every meal is your best protection against dental caries and the damage caused by fluorosis. Make sure to rinse your mouth properly to get rid of toothpaste and other products you used for dental cleaning. (Tips on how to care for your teeth)
- Check your water supply. If there’s a high incidence of fluorosis in your area, you may want to check with your local water supplier to see if they’re adding more than the recommended amount of fluoride in your water supply.
- Drink cola and artificially-flavored juices in moderation. Fluoridation is often used in the manufacture of carbonated beverages and artificially-flavored drinks. Try to regulate your consumption of these beverages. It’s best for children to avoid cola and to stick with natural, fresh-squeezed juices.
Minor cases of fluorosis can easily be stalled with proper and sustained dental hygiene. For more severe cases, though, a dentist needs to treat the affected set of teeth with one or more of these remedies:
- Whitening. Cosmetic whitening is a treatment often used for less-severe cases of fluorosis. Whitening can be performed by the dentist, or you can use home treatments like sprays or gels.
- Veneers are used to cover or restore the surface of damaged teeth, and are especially useful for severe cases of fluorosis. Most veneers are made from resin or composite material, and some veneers may be made from porcelain or ceramic. The veneer is bonded by a dentist to the surface of a tooth damaged by fluorosis.
- Crowning and extraction. In very severe cases of fluorosis, a dentist may need to clean out the damaged parts of the tooth and replace it with a ceramic or resin crown. In extreme cases, though, a doctor may need to extract the tooth to completely stall the progression of fluorosis into the pulp.
Dental fluorosis is not dangerous, but it does result in an unpleasant appearance when you smile or converse. With these tips, you can get rid of those fluorosis spots and give everyone a shiny, pearly-white smile you thought just existed in toothpaste advertisements.