Beware of young children loving tooth paste too much. Seems if a young child eats or drinks and then swallows too much fluoride, the fluoride, it can damage the natural coloration of their teeth permanently. Their teeth can be damaged mildly as in the image below or severely as in the bottom.
Dental fluorosis is a health condition caused by a child receiving too much fluoride during tooth development and nutrition. The critical period of exposure is between 1 and 4 years old; children over age 8 are not at risk. In its mild form, which is the most common, fluorosis appears as tiny white streaks or specks that are often unnoticeable. In its severest form, which is also called mottling of dental enamel, it is characterized by black and brown stains, as well as cracking and pitting of the teeth.
How does fluoride stain or pit the teeth?
Dental fluorosis occurs by ingesting too much fluoride, either from the fluoride in the water supply, naturally occurring or added to it; or from fluoride toothpaste or other sources. It damages teeth while they are developing in children between the ages of 3 months to 8 years, from the overexposure to fluoride.
How are teeth damaged by fluorosis?
Teeth are generally composed of minerals/calcium compounds, calcium phosphate hydroxyapatite and carbonated hydroxyapatite; when fluoride is present, some fluorapatite is formed. When excessive fluoride is present, white spots, brown stains or pitting or mottling of enamel will occur. Once the tooth has come through gums into the oral cavity, fluorapatite is beneficial; it is more resistant to dissolution by acids (demineralization). Although it is usually the permanent (adult) teeth which are affected, occasionally the primary (baby) teeth may be involved.
The organic portion of enamel does not contain collagen, as dentin and bone does. Instead, it has two unique classes of proteins called amelogenins and enamelins . The role of these proteins is uncertain but thought to be needed for the development of enamel as a framework support and other mechanisms.
Talk to your pediatric dentist or water treatment facility to tell you how much fluoride is in your local drinking water. If you drink well water or bottled water, your pediatric dentist can assist you in getting an analysis of its fluoride content. After you know how much fluoride your child receives, you and your pediatric dentist can decide together whether your child needs a fluoride supplement.
- Monitor your child when it is tooth brushing time:
- If you are using a fluoridated toothpaste use a pea-sized amount on the brush is plenty for fluoride protection.
- Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste, not swallow it, after brushing.
Diagram tooth courtesy of http://bit.ly/gGWmro
Image 1. courtesy of http://bit.ly/fWqBRp
Image 2. courtesy of http://bit.ly/dGgQtG