Children who ingest excessive quantities during the initial stages of tooth development can develop fluorosis, which usually affects those who are between the ages of one and four years old.
The condition becomes increasingly common at this stage because it is the time when permanent pearly whites begin to form underneath the gum tissue and therefore leaves those over eight years old at a reduced risk.
Youngsters who develop fluorosis usually do so due to high quantities of the substance in their diet, with the main characteristic coming in the form of stains that form on the tooth’s protective layer of enamel in yellow and brown spots.
The shade of these changes can range from slight tinges to extensive coverage on the surface of the pearly white and they can appear as streaks, as well as discoloured spots, in more severe cases of the condition.
One thing parents may like to hear is that fluorisis no longer poses a risk to their child after their teeth have fully developed, which means they do not need to worry about this issue arising after their little one is over eight years old.
While the problem is not considered a disease, it can be a very noticeable cosmetic condition. However, in most cases, the stains and discolouration are only visible to a dental professional – but individuals are warned that these marks can darken over time.
Most dentists will be able to spot the early signs of fluorosis development during a regular check-up, which is an ideal opportunity for parents to ask about their child’s diet and whether or not fluoride supplements are a good idea. Here, the professional could ask guardians whether they utilise a fluoride toothpaste or drink an excess amount of water.
In many cases, it is common to be queried about previous medical conditions that may have a similar effect to ensure they can be ruled out before a possible course of treatment is determined.
During this visit, the patient will receive a thorough oral examination and some X-ray photographs will be taken to check for any other issues with the teeth and gums.
Parents are advised to assume their child has fluorosis if they develop stains on their pearly whites, while some conditions – which are often more serious – can present similar symptoms and should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible.
How is this issue treated?
Usually, the development of fluorosis on the pearly whites is so minor that no treatment is required, with many instances occurring on the back teeth – meaning the spots can not been seen by individuals in everyday instances.
However, children with more severe cases may need to be treated with tooth whitening or another cosmetic treatment that will restore their smile to its original shade. The most serious instances of fluorosis could see many patients on the lookout for more drastic courses of action, including crowns or veneers.
Parents with children under the age of six should try to ensure they are using only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, while also teaching them to spit after brushing rather than swallowing.
In addition, products that encourage children not to rid their mouth of the substance – including flavoured toothpastes – should be avoided and adults are advised to keep fluoridated products out of sight, where offspring cannot locate them.
A number of soft drinks containing this substance are also widely available to youngsters, so it is recommended that parents keep an eye on the daily intake of their little ones and limit the amount of such beverages they consume.