Encouraging proper dental hygiene is important for kids, but when it comes to fluoride, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. When children consume too much fluoride prior to their teeth breaking through the gums, they run the risk of developing dental fluorosis. But how do you know how much fluoride is too much? And what can you do to protect your child’s teeth? We understand the many concerns parents have for their childrens’ overall health, which is why we’re discussing how to spot dental fluorosis symptoms in your child, and what you can do to prevent the condition.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Fluoride is a very important mineral for the health of your child’s teeth. It protects the tooth enamel, can help prevent dental cavities and even reverse the early stages of tooth decay. However, overexposing children to fluoride can cause dental fluorosis.
Fluorosis can have a negative effect on the appearance of your child’s teeth. In the mild stages, fluorosis will cause white flecks or streaks on the teeth. These streaks might be hard to diagnose with the untrained eye.
Moderate dental fluorosis symptoms are similar to mild, but the white streaks and spots will cover more of the surface of your child’s teeth. Rare cases of fluorosis are classified as severe. Once your child reaches this stage, almost the entire surface of the tooth is covered in white and brown spots, and the teeth may appear to be corroded or mottled.
Fortunately, fluorosis is not a disease and won’t affect the overall health of your child’s teeth. For most mild and even moderate cases of fluorosis, only a dentist would notice the presence of fluorosis.
How to Prevent Dental Fluorosis
Too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, but not enough can allow for tooth decay. That’s why it’s important for parents to strike a balance of exposing their child to enough –– but not too much –– fluoride. Sources of fluoride can include fluoride toothpaste, tap water, some bottled water brands, fluoride supplements, and even some medications.
Children are most at risk for developing fluorosis before age 8 when teeth are still developing under the gums. Once all teeth have broken through the gums, fluorosis is no longer a concern.
Here are a few tips to prevent dental fluorosis in your child:
- Make sure your child is using the proper amount of fluoride toothpaste. A good rule of thumb is to use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for children over the age of 3, and grain-of-rice-sized for kids under the age of 3. Supervise your child as they learn to brush their teeth on their own, and help them as they develop the skill.
- Ingesting fluoride toothpaste can lead to overexposure. Help your child avoid this by teaching him or her to spit out excess toothpaste instead of swallowing it.
- Fluoride is sometimes added to medication. Read the ingredients of all medication your child takes, and be aware of the potential side effects.
- Regular dental exams are key to preventing fluorosis and many other dental problems. Make sure your child is visiting his or her dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and exam.
Experts You Can Trust
As experienced dental professionals, our team at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado is happy to answer any questions you might have about your child’s dental health. A healthy, beautiful smile is key to your child’s confidence!
It’s our pleasure to serve families in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and the surrounding areas. Contact our office today to learn how we can restore and enhance your smile!