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 are a result of something called fluorosis. Many people don’t like the way fluorosis looks. If you want those white patches gone, an experienced cosmetic dentist can help.

A young woman hiding her mouth, being shy about white patches on her teeth - called Fluorosis. As a child she was exposed to too much fluoride during the first 8 years of her life, when adult teeth were forming.

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 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 swallowing 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?

Professional 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.

If your fluorosis is mild, the discolored patches may be able to be buffed out of the teeth. This can be very effective, but it’s only useful in limited cases.

A better and more reliable solution may be porcelain veneers. 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. They can also correct a myriad of other issues, including, chipped teeth, crooked or gaped smiles, or short, misshapen teeth.

The best way to determine the right treatment for you is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. During your consultation, you and your dentist can discuss your smile goals and the best steps to get there!

To learn more about porcelain veneers from our experienced cosmetic dentist, Dr. Adam Hahn, please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry today for an appointment at our Columbia, South Carolina office.