The drinking water in most regions of the U.S. contains a certain amount of fluoride to help protect your teeth from cavities. The addition of fluoride to water (which occurs naturally in some areas) began in 1945 in order to reduce dental decay. Although fluoride offers many benefits for your teeth, too much of it can cause tooth staining in children whose permanent teeth are still developing. Fortunately, porcelain veneers can save you from these stains if you were overexposed to fluoride as a child.

Fluoride Protects Your Teeth

Studies have found time and time again that fluoride can help protect your teeth from cavities. A recent study published on February 6, 2015 showed that the recent fluoridation of drinking water in Queensland, Australia significantly reduced the occurrence of tooth decay. Researchers studied the dental health of two groups of children between the ages of 4 and 9. One group had been exposed to fluoridated water for 36 months, while the other group had not. They found that the prevalence of tooth decay in the non-fluoride group was 87% compared to 75% in the fluoride group.

Children Should Have Limited Exposure to Fluoride

As with anything, too much fluoride can cause problems despite the benefits. Children younger than 8 years old who are exposed to large quantities of fluoride (usually more than 2 mg/L) are at risk of developing a condition called dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is a defect in enamel that causes extrinsic (inside of the enamel) stains on developing permanent teeth. Staining can range from mild (characterized by white spots or lines on teeth) to severe (brown spots which range in size). In severe cases, enamel may be pitted as well.

Adults need not worry about their own fluoride exposure. Only children are at risk of this condition because their permanent teeth are still developing under the gums. Once a tooth has erupted, it is no longer susceptible to dental fluorosis.

Preventing Dental Fluorosis

Although dental fluorosis will not harm your child’s teeth, it may be a good idea to monitor how much fluoride your child is exposed to while their teeth develop. Staining can hurt your child’s self-esteem later on in life, both as they grow up, and into adulthood. Water does not usually contain enough fluoride to cause staining, but some regions use more fluoride than others. If you are concerned, you can investigate the fluoride content in your area. The CDC also suggests limiting your child’s exposure to certain toothpastes and mouthwashes that are high in fluoride until their permanent teeth come in.

Treating Dental Fluorosis

No matter what causes them, tooth stains are embarrassing. Even mild staining can be unsightly and make you feel self-conscious about your smile. Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry can help you get rid of stains caused by dental fluorosis. In some mild cases of fluorosis, teeth whitening can diminish the appearance of stains.

Because fluorosis stains are in your tooth enamel rather than being on the surface of your teeth, teeth whitening does not always show significant improvement. Porcelain veneers are often a more effective option. These durable pieces of porcelain adhere to the surface of your discolored teeth to hide deep stains. Each veneer is crafted to match your natural teeth in shape and color in order to give you a natural looking smile. Your new veneers will look great so that you can smile with confidence.

If you have stained teeth from dental fluorosis and would like to learn more about how porcelain veneers can restore your confidence, please call (361) 851-8274 for an appointment at the Corpus Christi Center for Cosmetic Dentistry.