Now Or Later? Understanding When You Should Get Your Child's Dental Fluorosis Treated

8 February 2016
 Categories: Dentist, Articles

Dental fluorosis is characterized by a discoloration of the teeth, usually white or light brown, and slight pitting of the enamel. It is caused when your child consumes too much fluoride while their adult teeth are still developing. The best way to deal with dental fluorosis is to avoid it altogether by monitoring your child's intake of fluoride from sources such as drinking water, juices, and toothpaste. However, even with careful monitoring it is possible for your child to exhibit mild dental fluorosis, and if your child has a high risk for early dental decay, extra fluoride treatments that are necessary to protect the strength of their teeth may result in fluorosis. 

You may notice fluorosis as soon as your child's adult teeth begin to errupt, when they are around 7-8 years old. Should you get the fluorosis treated immediately, or should you wait until your child is older and can make an informed decision about various treatment options on their own? Here are a few things that you should take into consideration when making this decision. 

Have your child's teeth fully erupted? 

If your child's teeth have not fully erupted, any treatment you do now may need to be repeated at a later date as more of the teeth become visible. For example, if you bleach the visible tip of the tooth now, once the rest of the tooth grows in, your child will likely have to undergo a second or third series of bleach treatments. 

Also, if your child's teeth are not fully erupted, their treatment options are limited to various forms of bleaching and bonding. Once the teeth are fully erupted, treatment can include the placement of crowns or veneers as well. 

How severe is your child's fluorosis?

Fluorosis presents with different severity in each individual, and in the United States, less than 1% of dental fluorosis is considered severe. Severe dental fluorosis means that the enamel of the teeth is brittle and may break or cause issues with standard dental treatments. Mild and moderate dental fluorosis, which is much more common in the U.S., is mostly an aesthetic issue and may not need immediate treatment. 

However, while mild fluorosis may not be noticeable by the average person, moderate fluorosis can be dark brown and easily noticeable, which may cause psychological and social discomfort for your child.  

How does your child currently feel about their teeth? 

While it might be financially beneficial for you to wait for your child's teeth to fully erupt before beginning treatment for dental fluorosis, it is important to take into consideration how your child feels about their teeth. If they are concerned about their appearance and their confidence is suffering due to their fluorosis, it may be better to get it treated in stages, as their teeth erupt. However, if your child and their friends do not notice their fluorosis, you should avoid calling attention to it until after all of their teeth have fully erupted. 

Which treatment options are financially available to you? 

There are several different methods for treating the appearance of fluorosis including professional etching and bleaching of discolored areas, dental bonding, veneers, and crowns. You should generally avoid home bleaching kits, as these change the color of the entire tooth and do not concentrate on the discolored areas. If you are only able to afford a home bleaching kit, or one or two etching treatments, you may want to save up money for a more thorough treatment, such as veneers, when your child is a bit older. 

If you think your child has dental fluorosis, talk to a dentist , such as Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates, about treatment options and when it will be best to start them.