What is dental fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is a defect of the tooth that results in yellow or brown discoloration caused by high levels of fluoride intake in water or food over a prolonged period of time between the ages of 0-18 years.
What causes fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is caused by the following:
- High fluoride levels in drinking water.
- Ingestion of fluoride toothpaste.
- Use of fluoride tablets.
- Cooking food with salty water.
- Brushing teeth with fluoridated water/salty water.
- Excessive intake of fluoride supplements.
Areas commonly affected with fluorosis in Kenya
In Kenya, some areas have high fluoride levels in the water (mainly, regions with salty water). They include:
- Athi river
What is the normal fluoride level in water?
The recommended normal level of fluoride is 1.5mg per litre or 0.7-1.2 ppm. Normal levels are tested at assigned centres or specific laboratories which will require a sample from your water source at home.
What is the presentation for dental fluorosis?
Fluorosis can manifest in both children and adults. When present, you will observe the following:
- Yellow or brown discoloration on the teeth. The severity is dependent on the concentration exposure time to salty water.
- It can be both permanent and baby teeth. However, it is more common on permanent teeth.
- Teeth can be pitted or perforated and may break and lead to early teeth loss.
Is fluoride ion beneficial in any way?
The acceptable fluoride ion range is less than 1-5 mg/litre and it helps reduce the occurrence of tooth decay. It bonds with the mineral calcium hydroxyapatite to form a stronger mineral called calcium fluorapatite which is more stable in acidic environments especially in the mouth, therefore it decreases dissolution of the tooth structure to reduce cavities.
Where do we find good fluoride (acceptable fluoride) for our teeth?
You can find beneficial fluoride components from:
- Fluoridated toothpaste
- Fluoride therapy(professional dental cleaning)
- Fluoride fortified food or drink
NB: Boiling or freezing water doesn’t remove instead it concentrates the fluoride ions.
How do we prevent dental fluorosis?
The good news is dental fluorosis can be prevented. You can leverage these approaches to make this happen:
- Installation of water filter that removes excess fluoride for all water that is used for drinking, cooking, and brushing teeth.
- Proper dosage of fluoride supplements.
- Annual dental check-ups are especially for children to identify this condition early and mitigate it.
- Keep mouth wash, toothpaste, and supplements out of reach for children.
- Nutritional intervention e.g. high intake of vitamin C and calcium which reduces the absorption of fluoride ions.
What is the treatment for fluorosis?
You may have been affected by dental fluorosis when reading this. Worry no more about how to regain your confidence for we have a range of dental procedures (treatments) to help you get a more confident smile. Below are the available treatment methods for fluorosis:
- Tooth whitening for mild cases with dental fluorosis.
- Spot masking for specific spots with discoloration.
- Dental veneers cover the front of the teeth and improve their appearance.
- Dental crowns- to completely cover the tooth, especially for severely damaged teeth.
- Microabrasion technique followed by teeth whitening to make the brown discoloration less apparent.
In case you would like to obtain further assistance reach out to us and we will gladly help.
Featured Photo Credit: African Cities for the Future