What Is Dental Fluorosis?

Dental fluorosis is a cosmetic dental condition that causes white or brown spots to change the appearance of tooth enamel (the outer, semi-translucent layer surrounding your teeth). Fluorosis only occurs when young children take in too much fluoride while their permanent teeth are still developing. Though the condition only occurs in childhood, it will continue to affect permanent teeth well into adulthood, until the condition is treated with an appropriate cosmetic dental procedure.

What Does Dental Fluorosis Look Like?

Depending on the severity of the condition, dental fluorosis’ appearance differs from patient to patient. In its mildest form, teeth may have scattered, white flecks, along with some white spots, frosty edges, or even lacy, chalk-like lines. These changes to the teeth are barely noticeable and can be hard to see except by a dental health care professional. For moderate to severe forms, the white spots on the teeth may become larger and in some rare cases, rough, pitted surfaces may arise. Teeth that haven’t been affected by fluorosis generally should be smooth and glossy with a pearly white color.

What Causes Fluorosis?

The benefit of fluoride is that it can bond to weakened layers of tooth enamel, which are your teeth’s first and foremost defense against oral bacteria, to prevent tooth decay and cavities from forming. However, when a child ingests too much fluoride, either through swallowing excessive amounts of fluoride toothpaste or too much fluoridated tap water, the child’s still-developing permanent tooth enamel can develop white and/or brown spots as a result. In more serious cases, the enamel can become pitted, lending it a mottled appearance in addition to the noticeable stains. Though adults with already-developed permanent teeth can’t develop fluorosis, the condition still affects many adults who have not treated the childhood condition.

Prevention and Treatment Options

There are numerous precautions you can take to prevent fluorosis from marring your child’s permanent smile. For instance, if your child is under 6 years of age, then you may try putting a small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush and encourage your child to spit rather than swallow after brushing. Avoid any flavored toothpastes to eliminate the child’s urge to swallow it, and keep all products that contain fluoride out of children’s reach.


As a native Texan, Dr. Gregory Wright opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.