Several substances can stain your teeth, according to Scott W. Grant, DMD. This includes coffee, tea, and alcohol. There’s one familiar substance that you probably didn’t think could damage your teeth, though: fluoride.
Fluoride is one of the main components of toothpaste because it reduces cavities and repairs the early stages of decay. Additionally, the water supplied to American households has been fluoridated since 1945; experts claim it reduces the instances of cavities up to 60%. But too much fluoride can be bad for you, as well. Excessive fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis.
What is Fluorosis?
There’s nothing to worry about; fluorosis isn’t a disease. It could, however, change the appearance of teeth. It is characterized by a white or brown discoloration of the enamel.
In mild cases, the damage is only visible to a dentist. Moderate cases, meanwhile, cause the teeth to have white streaks or spots. Severe cases produce gray, brown, or black spots and pits on the teeth, including an irregularly shaped enamel. In extreme cases, the fluorosis advances to skeletal fluorosis, which causes painful damage to the connecting bones.
Today, about 25% of Americans from ages 6 to 49 are affected by fluorosis.
What Causes It?
Fluorosis is caused by overexposure to fluoride. This usually happens when people take fluoride supplements even if the water they drink already contains the mineral. It could also develop in children if they swallow toothpaste or use mouth rinses too much.
How is It Treated?
Most of the time, fluorosis does not need treatment because it only affects the appearance, and not the functions, of the teeth. There are, however, several ways to get rid of the stains and spots caused by fluorosis. Dentists recommend teeth whitening, teeth bonding, crowns, and veneers.
How Is It Prevented?
Care must be exercised when using toothpaste and mouth rinses. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is enough for children. Moreover, before taking fluoride supplements, you must consult a dentist to check if the fluoride in your drinking water is already sufficient.
It’s true that too much of the good stuff could be bad for you. Therefore, in looking after your teeth, as well as your overall health, remember the moderation is key.