I really need some unbiased advice. My 10 year old daughter has what has just been diagnosed as “severe fluorosis stains” on her teeth. The permanent teeth she has on the bottom are really yellow, and her teeth on the top (the paperwork from the dentist says they are the top central and lateral incisors) are really blotchy. One of her teeth has a jagged edge, like it is just chipping away.
She is pretty vocal about being embarassed by her teeth, and we’re trying to do what we can now so this does not have a lasting effect on her self-esteem. She will need braces in another year or two, as soon as her 12 year molars come in, to correct issues from years of sucking on her fingers. I was just hoping there was some kind of teeth whitening treatment that is safe for kids that would at least correct part of the problem now. Our family dentist kind of blew me off when I asked about this, saying that there is not really anything we can or should do until after the braces have been done and are removed. That is years away! Is there anything you can suggest that would help right now?
Thanks for your help,
Though your dentist may not have communicated it as tactfully as he should have, in a way he is correct–there are not any teeth whitening products that will correct fluorosis stains. If the yellow staining on her bottom teeth is uniform, you may be looking at a different cause for the discoloration, and that may respond to teeth whitening procedures. The only way to really deal with severe fluorosis stains is to cover the teeth with porcelain veneers. While there is no minimum age for porcelain veneers (or teeth whitening), make very sure the dentist you choose to do the procedure is knowlegable about working with children, and takes into consideration the degree of present and future tooth eruption.
Fluorosis stains are caused by the consumption of too much fluoride when the teeth are still forming. Sometimes this happens because of too-high levels of fluoride in the drinking water, or by the over-use of unnecessary fluroide supplements. It is also not uncommon to see fluorosis in children who routinely swallow over-large amounts of fluoridated toothpaste. As a reminder, children should only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and should be taught NOT to swallow their toothpaste. If a child is too young to understand that they must spit after brushing, special toothpaste can be purchased that does not contain fluoride.
In the case of your daughter, you should consult with an expert cosmetic dentist who does both porcelain veneers and Invisalign braces. In some cases, porcelain veneers act as “instant orthodontics”, and can be a method of dealing with crooked teeth. It all depends on the extent of the orthodontic work required, and if you consult with a cosmetic dentist that is an expert in both areas, he can offer the best advice on the best course of treatment to give your daughter a beautiful smile.