A Guide to Flourosis

If you’re a parent, you are probably already aware of the debate surrounding flouride. Fouride is added to much of the drinking water in the UK before it reaches our homes. Many people see this as one of the key factors in reducing tooth decay and improving oral hygiene across the UK.

However, there is another side to the debate. There are many opponents to flouride in water as too much flouride can actually be detrimental to the health of our children’s teeth. Too much flouride can cause a condition known as flourosis in children.

So what is flourosis? Put simply, it is when too much flouride causes the teeth to become discoloured. However, it does not affect adults. Flourosis only affects children as their adult teeth are emerging. It causes white, yellow and brown spots to form on the tooth enamel. Luckily, the symptoms of flourosis are no more serious than that. It is a disease with purely cosmetic implications for your teeth. Once teeth have fully developed into the adult stage, flourosis no longer develops.

There are some cases of flourosis that are so minimal that most people do not even realise that they have it. It won’t cause your teeth to ache or your gums to rot. Sometimes, only your dentist can notice you have it.

However, there are other cases where the teeth can be visibly discoloured. And while the disease is not serious, it can affect a child’s confidence and self-esteem just as they are growing up and becoming more aware of how they look. Therefore, most parents are very keen to ensure that their child does not develop flourosis.

This is at the heart of the debate about whether flouride should be added to our drinking water. From one point of view, flouride is vital in strengthening the tooth enamel as your child grows up. In fact, it is fair to say that flouride is your most important ally in fighting tooth decay. However, from another point of view, it can be a contributing factor to flourosis for a small number of children.

If you have concerns about your child’s teeth, the best thing to do is to talk to your dentist about it. Your dentist will be able to examine your child’s teeth and evaluate whether tooth decay is likely to be a problem or whether there are any early signs of flourosis. This will enable your dentist to form a professional opinion on how much flouride your child needs.

Therefore, parents should be conscious of the need to balance protecting their child’s teeth against exposing their child to too much flouride. However, many cases of flouride simply come about because children are swallowing toothpaste or using an additional flouride mouthwash. Some parents give their children flouride supplements – which you should avoid doing unless your dentist specifically recommends it.

Of course, flouride is not the only way to protect against tooth decay. You should ensure that your child maintains a good all-round oral health and hygiene routine, which includes avoiding too many sugary snacks, cleaning their teeth twice every day and using a small amount of flouride toothpaste. If you child sticks to this regime, then they should develop healthy adult teeth.

Finally, what if you are an adult who developed flourosis as a child? Is there anything that you can now do to improve the cosmetic appearance of your teeth? Flouride is not a degenerative disease so it will not cause your teeth to decay. Therefore, the majority of dental treatments available to you are the same as the treatments available to other people with discoloured teeth.

Therefore, tooth whitening is an option which many people can consider. There are now a variety of whitening techniques, treatments and brands available, to suit a broad range of budgets. Another possibility are veneers, which cover your teeth with a suitable material such as porcelain, which creates a perfect, natural smile.

To find out more about the techniques available for restoring your teeth after flourosis, you should speak to your dentist.