What Is Fluorosis?

woman with fluorosis looking off to the side

You probably know you’re supposed to get fluoride from your water and your toothpaste. But did you know there’s such thing as too much fluoride? It’s called fluorosis, and it’s no joke. Let’s break down the facts about this harmful condition.

What Exactly Is Fluorosis?

Fluorosis is a cosmetic condition caused by getting too much fluoride during childhood, when permanent teeth are being formed. After kids lose their baby teeth and their permanent teeth come in, the permanent teeth are discolored and marked with white lines. In more serious cases, though, they can be stained yellow or brown, have irregular surfaces, or have small holes in them. According to a WebMD, fluorosis affects almost one in every four Americans age six to forty-nine.

What Causes It?

Children can get too much fluoride in many ways. It could be from ingesting toothpaste instead of spitting it out, or by drinking too much fluorinated drinking water. Additionally, many processed drinks, such as soda and juice, contain fluoride.

What Can You Do to Prevent It?

For Babies

If possible, you can breastfeed your baby since breast milk is very low in fluoride. If you need to feed your child formula, use formula mix that is mixed with fluoride-free water (which you can buy at the store), not tap water. Generally, be very careful of what your kids put into their mouth. Don’t let them swallow toothpaste. Be extra-vigilant until you child is eight, at which point teeth have stopped forming under the gums.

For Older Children

Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day. Always supervise brushing to make sure they’re not using too much toothpaste and not swallowing it. Don’t use fluoride mouth rinse for children unless your dentist tells you to. Don’t start any fluoride supplements without talking to your doctor.

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