Enamel fluorosis is not a disease but rather affects the way that teeth look. In the vast majority of cases, enamel fluorosis appears as barely noticeable faint white lines or streaks on tooth enamel and does not affect the function or health of the teeth. In fact, in many cases, the effect is so subtle that, usually only a dental professional would notice it during an examination. Enamel fluorosis occurs only when teeth are forming under the gums. Once teeth break through the gums, they cannot develop enamel fluorosis.
What can be done to reduce the risk for enamel fluorosis? The vast majority of enamel fluorosis can be prevented by stopping children from swallowing fluoride products such as fluoride toothpaste. For children younger than 3 years, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use of the appropriate amount of toothpaste. For children 3 to 6 years of age, caregivers should dispense no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to minimize swallowing of toothpaste.
Recent evidence suggests that mixing powdered or liquid infant formula concentrate with fluoridated water on a regular basis may increase the chance of mild or very mild fluorosis. Occasional use of fluoridated water to reconstitute infant formula should not greatly increase the chance of enamel fluorosis. Mild or very mild fluorosis does not affect the teeth’s health or function, but appears cosmetically as barely noticeable faint, white markings. While there is a chance of fluorosis, it is a fact that drinking fluoridated water helps reduce tooth decay for children and adults. Parents and caretakers should consult with their dentist or physician about the type of water to use to reconstitute infant formula.