Fluoride is a mineral that does much for your dental health. It has been called “nature’s cavity fighter” because it prevents, and can even reverse, tooth decay. In fact, water fluoridation has reduced tooth decay in the U.S. by 25%. However, too much fluoride ingestion in children may result in white streaks on their permanent teeth, a cosmetic condition called fluorosis. Here are a few things you need to know about fluorosis.
- Fluorosis isn’t dangerous. Fluorosis only creates white streaks or specks on the teeth; it does not impair their function or health.
- Fluorosis cannot develop on erupted permanent teeth. It only develops while these teeth are growing under the gum line, when children are younger than 8 years old.
- The white streaks and specks caused by fluorosis are usually not very noticeable. Most of the time, they can only be discerned by a dental professional.
- Fluorosis is permanent, though some tooth whitening options may reduce the visibility of the streaks and specks if you feel they are an issue.
- Fluoride toothpaste can cause fluorosis if young children swallow too much of it. Those 0-2 years of age should have only a rice-sized amount of toothpaste used to brush teeth. Children 3-6 should use a pea-sized amount.
- Frequently mixing fluoridated water with baby formula can result in mild fluorosis. Occasionally use bottled water instead, because it doesn’t have added fluoride.