Dental Fluorosis: Why Your Child's New Teeth Might Look Old

Posted on: 15 December 2021

Wouldn't you expect your child's permanent teeth to be close to perfect when they first develop? After all, it's not as though the teeth have had the opportunity to be exposed to any cavity-inducing compounds, or anything that might stain them. This is why it can be worrying when, instead of being white or off-white, your child's new permanent teeth are noticeably discolored. These teeth might be yellow or brown and may have curious white flecks on their surfaces. What is making these new teeth look old?

Fluoride Consumption

Adults and adolescents should be consuming between three and four milligrams of fluoride per day. The recommended daily amount of fluoride for a child is considerably lower. Although fluoride is an essential component of dentistry and general dental health, excessive fluoride during the first years of your child's life can lead to a condition known as fluorosis. 

Cell Formation

The reason for your child's fluorosis can be traced back to their very early life. During the embryonic development of your child's teeth, layers of cells, each with a specific purpose, start to form. One of these layers is called the ectoderm, which produces ameloblasts—cells that regulate the formation of dental enamel. It's thought that fluorosis is due to a chemical reaction between excessive fluoride and these ameloblasts occurring as your child's first set of teeth develop. Fluorosis is then present in permanent dental enamel formation, meaning your child's permanent teeth can be discolored.

A Cosmetic Concern

Generally, instances of fluorosis are nothing more than a cosmetic concern. Despite the aesthetics, your child's teeth may be perfectly strong and healthy, while also being resistant to cavities. Higher levels of fluorosis can be more significant, leading to the formation of pits and fissures on the teeth. Even higher levels can lead to skeletal fluorosis, which requires medical attention. In short, you must take your child to your family dentistry clinic for assessment, as you cannot gauge the seriousness of their fluorosis yourself.

Dental Intervention

Provided the teeth are healthy and intact, any intervention from a dentist will be to improve the appearance of your child's teeth. Their teeth could be mildly whitened, or they might have a composite dental resin applied to conceal the discoloration. Dental veneers and crowns can serve a similar purpose, once your child is a little older. Your family dentist may also wish to discuss your child's diet with you in order to identify the source of the excessive fluoride consumption. It's important to ensure that your child is consuming a healthy amount of fluoride to eliminate any future health problems linked to overconsumption.

A new set of teeth that are already noticeably discolored can certainly be troubling. Yes, suspected dental fluorosis should be investigated, but it's simply a cosmetic issue for most patients. For more information, contact a dentistry