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Fluoride is an element that can be found naturally in the soil, air, animals, plants and water. The importance of fluoride in the oral cavity lies in the fact that this element has the property of being able to increase the resistance of the enamel, making it less susceptible to dental caries, especially when it is applied constantly and in low concentrations, according to research dated by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the intake of fluoride in high concentrations can lead to problems in the teeth, especially when they are in the process of formation.
How does fluoride act on our teeth?
Fluorides have the advantage of controlling dental caries effectively because they act in different ways. When fluoride is present in dental plaque and saliva, it plays an important role in helping the remineralization of teeth that present dental caries that have just started and are only at the enamel level. In addition, fluoride can alter glycolysis when bacteria processes the sugars from ingested food to produce the acids that cause dental caries.
Fluoride reaches the teeth in two ways:
- Systemic route: thanks to the ingestion of foods containing fluoride and the consumption of fluoridated water, the substance is absorbed by the digestive tract and transported throughout the body through the blood.
- Topical route: the presence of fluoride in toothpaste or fluoride topication in the dental office, is transported by saliva.
What is dental fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is a type of dental alteration caused by the inadequate intake of fluoride (or fluoride supplements) or exposure to high concentrations when the teeth are in formation and development. It causes hypomineralization of the dental enamel, that is, a poor quality enamel that will present porosities, which is a particular coloration in the teeth. In more serious cases,there can be an alteration of the structure of the tooth.
The consumption of fluoridated food and beverages, especially in locations with a high percentage of fluoride in public drinking water can pose a problem for dental fluorosis
Clinical features of dental fluorosis
Dental fluorosis can be observed in the teeth in the following ways:
- Presence of whitish mottled spots on the tooth surface.
- Presence of dark brown stains, imparting the appearance of corrosion.
- Dental fragility, causing loss of tooth structure.
Types of dental fluorosis
The classification of dental fluorosis will be given according to the severity presented:
- Mild dental fluorosis: lines or striations are observed on the dental surface.
- Moderate dental fluorosis: the teeth present resistance to dental caries; however, opaque white spots can be seen on the dental surface.
- Severe dental fluorosis: In the most severe cases, a fragile enamel with the presence of brown stains will be observed.
How can I be treated for dental fluorosis?
The treatment for dental fluorosis depends on the degree of severity and where it occurs. Where the fluorosis is mild, you can choose tooth whitening or even microabrasion treatments to improve the stains observed at the enamel level. In more severe cases, it will be necessary to undergo other types of treatment such as ceramic crowns , dental veneers, or composites to restore normal dental aesthetics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following recommendations to avoid fluorosis without harming dental protection against caries:
- For children under 3 years of age, the amount of fluoride paste should be the size of a grain of rice.
- For children over 3 years of age, the amount of fluoride paste should be applied in the size of a pea.
- Parents should supervise their children on teeth so that they do not ingest the product in large amounts. They should guide children to spit out any excess toothpaste.
- Keep toothpaste products out of the reach of children.
If you have any questions about this or any other topic, please feel free to contact or visit us at Channel Island Family Dental.
At Channel Island Family Dental, we will be attentive to your visit to make a timely diagnosis. In addition, our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Newbury Park and Port Hueneme will be able to guide you to the best treatment to bring back your best smile.