What is dental fluorosis?

Many people have questions about dental fluorosis.  Dental fluorosis is not being investigate in the waterBEST research study because the children are too young to show any signs of it.  However, we would like to take a moment to cover what dental fluorosis is and what it looks like.

  • Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of tooth enamel caused by high intakes of fluoride during the tooth-forming years
  • Dental fluorosis is typically a mild cosmetic effect:
    • It does not cause pain
    • It does not affect the health or function of teeth
    • It is so subtle most people don’t even notice it
  • Dental fluorosis can only develop up to 8 years of age while permanent teeth are growing under the gums
  • Permanent teeth erupt into the mouth over a period of about eight years, starting around the age of six years
    • Therefore, dental fluorosis can be seen only after the age of six years.

The pictures below show the different degrees of dental fluorosis that are seen in the world.  Most dental fluorosis in the U.S. is very mild to mild, appearing as white spots on the tooth surface that may be barely noticeable and do not affect dental function.  Severe dental fluorosis does not occur from fluoride in the water from New Bern which where the level of fluoride is equivalent fluoridated public water systems in the U.S.  Recent research has shown that very mild and mild dental fluorosis fades during adolescence and young adulthood.