Fluorosis is a dental health condition that is most commonly the result of too much fluoride during tooth development in children, especially between the ages of one and four years old. Fluorosis is usually mild, and causes the appearance of tiny white marks on the surface of the teeth. More advanced fluorosis causes black or brown stains and mottling of the enamel, as well as cracking and pitting of the teeth.
The severity of fluorosis is directly related to the amount of fluoride exposure a child experiences, and can also be affected by the age of the child and that child's nutrition. In some cases, fluorosis can be linked to fluoride in the water supply. In fact, dental associations have recently recommended that parents of infants up to 12 months old should prepare formula with fluoride-free water to reduce the risk of fluorosis when teeth erupt into the oral cavity.
In addition to preventive fluoride treatments performed at the dentist's office, children are susceptible to too much fluoride exposure if drinking water is over-fluoridated or if they ingest too much toothpaste or fluoride mouthwash. For this reason, it is very important to monitor small children when they brush their teeth.
While severe flourosis can cause tooth damage and even tooth loss, minor cases of fluorosis are merely cosmetic nuisances. Most cases can be treated with such common methods as tooth whitening, dental bonding, and porcelain veneers.