How to Get Rid of Fluorosis?

Most of us know about fluoride and its use in our water supplies. For decades, municipal governments have used fluoride as part of a plan to prevent dental problems. This chemical is believed to make the enamel on our teeth stronger but local governments began adding it to water supplies in the 1930s and 1940s as a way to prevent tooth cavities.

In addition to the fluoride we get in our drinking water, we get some fluoride in toothpastes we buy at the grocery store or pharmacy. In the last 60 or 70 years, research has shown that fluoride reduces the cases of tooth decay in the general population. But the addition of large amounts of fluoride in water and in toothpaste may have a side effect that is becoming a problem. Apparently, organizations that regularly track health conditions in the general public are finding that the number of cases of fluorisis is actually increasing.

The real problem seems to be in young children whose teeth are still growing. Some studies show that more than 20 percent of children show signs of fluorosis today. Records from the early part of the 20th century show that about 12 percent of the children had this condition (before fluoride was added to drinking water). It seems to be a case of taking the good with the bad.

FluorosisWhat is fluorosis, exactly? Medical personnel describe it as a condition in which the enamel covering of a child’s tooth has different shades of white. In other words, teeth aren’t consistently white, as healthy teeth should be, because some parts of the tooth are thinner or have a different color. In the long run, too much fluoride seems to actually lead to a weakening of this enamel covering, opening the tooth up to potential decay.

How do we get too much fluoride? In addition to having it in all the water we use daily, it is in toothpaste, tooth-whitening products and maybe even in some of the food we eat. How do we avoid fluorosis caused by too much fluoride? We can’t avoid the fluoride in our water, though some people have been protesting against this program since it began more than six decades ago.

But parents can keep their children from using fluoridated toothpaste or using smaller amounts of toothpaste that contains fluoride. Rinsing the mouth completely after brushing will also clear out some of the fluoride that is in the toothpaste. Parents can also learn more about which foods contain fluoride – snack foods, soft drinks, cookies and cakes may be culprits. It helps to be an informed consumer.

We mentioned earlier that this is a case of taking the good with the bad. Some studies show that teeth affected by fluorosis might be more resistant to decay unless the condition is very extreme. But the teeth become discolored enough that children become uncomfortable with their appearance. Fluorosis can be a real “catch 22” situation. A program of good hygiene and reduction of soft drinks and snack foods can help. It will also help to learn more about fluoride added to public water supplies.

Category: Dental Health, Diseases & Conditions, Health

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