Have you ever looked in the mirror and spotted bright white patches in the middle of your front teeth? If those patches bother you, you’re not alone. Those patches could be a result of something called fluorosis, and they’re incredibly common. But common or not, many people don’t like they way fluorosis looks. If you want those white patches gone, an experienced cosmetic dentist can help.
How Does Fluorosis Happen?
The patches are a result of hypomineralization of tooth enamel. You’ve probably had them for as long as you can remember, because fluorosis is caused by the excessive ingestion of fluoride during the time when your enamel is being formed. This means that most people with fluorosis have had the resultant discoloration since they were a child.
While fluoride in appropriate doses helps build strong enamel that can more effectively protect teeth from cavities, excessive fluoride can have detrimental effects to the aesthetic appearance of teeth, and in severe cases, can also damage teeth. This excess of fluoride can come from many sources, such as children ingesting fluoridated mouthwash or toothpaste, use of fluoride supplements, and drinking water that contains too much fluoride. (While some public water supplies are fluoridated intentionally, excess fluoridation is more likely to occur because of naturally high fluoride levels in water.)
Most fluorosis is mild, and doesn’t pose a health risk to your teeth. Severe fluorosis can make teeth more susceptible to decay, but mild fluorosis can actually make teeth more resistant to cavities. However, many have cosmetic concerns about the white patches, which can stand out particularly on teeth that are at all yellowed or stained.
Can It Be Treated?
Teeth whitening seems like it should be the obvious answer to fluorosis, and in some cases this can effectively brighten the rest of the teeth to match the white patches, making them less visible. However, sometimes whitening treatments can lighten the fluorosis patches as well, ensuring that they continue to stand out. On the other hand, the fluorosis patches will often dim faster than the rest of the tooth, which means that most of the time the patches will blend in.
If your fluorosis is mild, the discolored patches may be able to be buffed out of the teeth. However, this may open up the affected teeth to erosion and decay.
A better and more reliable solution may be either porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns. If your fluorosis is mild, a porcelain veneer can correct the cosmetic issue by simply masking your tooth with an attractive veneer of advanced ceramic. Porcelain veneers are durable and long-lasting, and you can have them in just two appointments.
If your fluorosis is more severe, a porcelain crown may be a better alternative. Crowns don’t just change the appearance of your teeth, they also protect and strengthen them. A CEREC® one-day crown can be complete in just one dental visit, and acts as a shield to protect the weakened tooth from bacteria.