Do you have white and brown splotches or streaks on your teeth? If you're alarmed and beginning to think it’s a form of tooth decay, you'll be pleased to learn it’s more likely a case of mild to moderate dental fluorosis. Fluorosis occurs when tooth enamel is exposed to too much fluoride early in its development, which may, in turn, cause the staining you’re noticing. The question is, though, what can you do about it?
What Does Fluorosis Look Like?
Fluorosis comes in four "shades," if you will: very mild, mild, moderate, and severe. In the first two instances, the mottling of the tooth enamel is hardly perceptible and usually shows up as a faded white streak or spot. In many cases, your dentist or hygienist will be the first to notice it because of all the attention they pay to your teeth. Usually, because the condition is rather common and not very visible to the naked eye, it isn’t considered detrimental enough to treat. The latter two, however, will certainly be noticeable to you because the discoloration will likely affect more than one tooth and a larger surface area of enamel. Sometimes, the coloring can include an outline of brown as well.
Since most cases of fluorosis are of the "very mild" or "mild" variety, most people live life without a single concern about it. In fact, most are even oblivious to there being anything "different" about their teeth altogether. So, if you’re not worried about it, you can safely ignore it. If, on the other hand, you’re bothered by the appearance of your teeth, then there are interventions, though they’re not as easy as you might think.
The three favorable methods to correct fluorosis involve a bit of work and cost, but they can be successful. They are dental bonding, veneers, and deep whitening.
Dental bonding: Dental bonding is the most affordable of the three, and is something you may already be familiar with. This solution involves removing a slight portion of the enamel and then filling it in with a tooth-colored filling. The results match your teeth exactly, and can be a quick and easy fix.
Porcelain Veneers: Veneers can be costly, but can be a good solution if you’re willing to invest in the expense. Veneers are thin shells of tooth-colored material that are adhered to the front surface of your existing teeth to improve their appearance.
Deep Whitening: Deep whitening, while it might seem like an easy fix, is often done with only limited success. In fact, some dentists will not even attempt whitening in this instance due to fears it can make the spotting more pronounced. If you want to give it a shot, this process will likely involve several visits to the office, in addition to proprietary whitening products. This type of deep whitening is most certainly not an over-the-counter remedy.
Should you be interested in tackling a case of fluorosis, asking every question you have of your dentist is the best way to decide on an option.