Dental fluorosis is a metabolic bone disease that comes with warning signs and symptoms. Take a look at them below.
The mineral fluoride is essential for the normal development of bones and teeth. However, its presence above the required limit leads to fluorosis of bones (skeletal) and teeth (dental). It is a dominant public health problem in India due to the geographic fluoride belt in numerous states. Despite fluoride’s anticarcinogenic potential, when present in excessive amounts, it degrades aesthetics and cripples individuals’ physical, mental, and social health.
We spoke to dr. Ankit Mashru, Consultant, Dental Services Department at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital to learn more about this metabolic bone disease and the symptoms associated with it. Scroll down to see what the doctor wants you to know.
What causes dental fluorosis?
Drinking water is one of the main sources of fluoride in India. It affects the population of 20 states in India (fluoride levels in drinking water > 1.5 mg/L) and approximately 62 million people in India suffer from dental, skeletal and non-skeletal fluorosis. Of these, six million are children under the age of 14. Groundwater is considered to be the most important source of drinking water in most places on earth. Rajasthan and Gujarat in northern India and Andhra Pradesh in southern India are the worst hit states.
Dental fluorosis is caused by ingesting too much fluoride over a long period of time as the teeth form under the gums. Only children ages 8 and younger are at risk because permanent teeth are developing at this point. Children over 8 years old, adolescents and adults cannot develop dental fluorosis. The severity of the condition depends on the dose (how much), duration (how long), and timing (if ingested) of fluoride intake.
Symptoms of dental fluorosis
It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of this serious metabolic bone disease. Symptoms of fluorosis usually range from tiny white spots or streaks that may not be noticeable to dark brown spots and rough, pitted enamel that is difficult to clean. The condition often results in some change in the color of your teeth. The teeth that are not affected by fluorosis are usually smooth and shiny. They should also look a little pale creamy white.
How to prevent dental fluorosis
- Make sure your child spits out toothpaste instead of swallowing it.
- Limit your child’s consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
- Community diagnosis of fluorosis village/block/cluster by removal of excess fluoride from drinking water (using various defluoridation techniques)
Identify dental fluorosis
Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of the enamel surface. Mild forms of fluorosis appear as white, filigree markings on the enamel. Moderate fluorosis looks mild but covers more of the tooth. In rare cases, fluorosis is described as severe. With severe fluorosis, the tooth enamel may show holes and brown spots.
treatment of dental fluorosis
Unfortunately, once dental fluorosis has occurred, it cannot be reversed. Current treatments simply mask the appearance of this condition. The treatment approach for dental fluorosis depends on its severity. For mild fluorosis, microabrasion, bleaching, and a combination of both are also preferred treatment options. In moderate cases, resin infiltration is a good option, while in severe cases it would justify more aggressive and invasive options such as full-surface porcelain crowns. Complete restoration of coverage requires very careful planning and execution of the procedure. For more severe fluorosis with dark discoloration and surface pitting, adhesive restorative dentistry may be required to meet a patient’s esthetic needs and expectations.
In summary, raising public awareness of the fluoride content of available drinking water, timely detection of the disease, and early treatment should help contain the problem and improve the overall well-being of our population.
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