Will Teeth Whitening Correct Fluorosis Staining?

It is quite common to see people who have fluorosis stains on their teeth, and many do feel quite self-conscious about them, especially if the staining is severe. Tooth whitening in London may work well on some cases but is not always the answer as some people can find it accentuates the fluorosis.

What is Fluorosis, and What Causes It?

Dental fluorosis is caused by exposure to excessive amounts of fluoride when the secondary or permanent teeth are still developing, up to the age of seven or eight. Teeth are no longer at risk of developing fluorosis once they have erupted. Occasionally it can even affect the primary, or baby teeth, and the most critical time for exposure is between the ages of one and four. It is also more prevalent in children who don’t have sufficient calcium in their diet.

The most common reason for this overexposure is due to high levels of fluoride being naturally present in drinking water. It is highly unlikely to occur as a result of water fluoridation by your local authority, especially as many do not add fluoride to the public water supplies.

Most people have a fairly mild form of dental fluorosis that makes teeth appear slightly mottled or flecked with white streaks or specks. However a tiny minority of the population will have significantly discoloured teeth that have brown spots or streaks, and the overexposure can cause the surface of the tooth enamel to look pitted or rough.

Using Teeth Bleaching to Hide Fluorosis Stains

Teeth whitening in London will uniformly whiten the colour of teeth, so any white spots of fluorosis may appear even brighter. This can be especially noticeable straight after bleaching, and the reason for this is that bleaching causes the teeth to become dehydrated, making then appear whiter than they really are. As the teeth gradually rehydrate the fluorosis stains can become less noticeable. Anyone who has a mild case of fluorosis may well be happy with the results produced by teeth whitening in London, and this is certainly true if they are choosing to bleach simply to improve the look of their teeth rather than to hide the fluorosis. However anyone who is actively looking to hide their fluorosis could be a little disappointed, and may be better off considering an alternative plan of action for the affected teeth.

There are several things that can be done to help mask excessive fluorosis stains, as the tooth can be bonded or veneered. Bonding involves covering up the stain with a composite resin material. This method does give good results, although the composite will eventually become stained and need renewing after a few years. Veneering generally involves removing some of the tooth structure to create sufficient room for a porcelain veneer to be fitted over the front of the tooth. A good quality veneer will last at least ten years if looked after, and will not stain, but if tooth material has been removed then there is no going back, and it will always have to be replaced periodically. A third method is to use a micro abrasion technique on the affected tooth. This removes a minute amount of the enamel before fluoride is applied to re-harden it (topically applied fluoride cannot cause fluorosis). After this process it may be possible to bleach the tooth.

The exact method of treatment for dental fluorosis is something that needs to be selected on a case-by-case basis. Dr Wyman Chan can offer advice on to patients whose teeth are affected during their initial visit to the Smile Studio.