All about dental, enamel, and skeletal fluorosis

Moderation in all things. It is a bit of wisdom that has withstood the test of time. Fluoride is best in moderation, too. Too little, and you'll miss out on it's cavity-fighting powers.

Bauxite Arkansas schoolchildren in the 1920s had dental fluorosis
Severe dental fluorosis used to be a big problem for these school kids in Bauxite, Arkansas, way back in the 1920s. But no more! U.S. dental researchers worked in the 1920s and 30s, in Bauxite and other American cities with naturally high fluoride in water. They discovered fluoride's role in both cavity-fighting (if fluoride is at the right amount) and as the cause of severe dental fluorosis (if there's too much). Today, we've largely solved the problems of severe dental fluorosis in these American cities. Woohoo! Photo from Bauxite Historical Association Museum.

But watch out ... there can be too much of a good thing. With fluoride, too much can result in fluorosis.

With dental fluorosis (also known as enamel fluorosis), mild forms have white spots or streaks on teeth. These mild forms are not a big deal. They are even associated with cavity prevention benefits.

But in many parts of the world, extremely high levels of fluoride occur naturally in water. And these too-high levels cause endemic fluorosis, which is a major concern in countries such as India, China, Iran, and Ethiopia. These countries face real problems with severe dental fluorosis, causing pits in enamel and brown stains on teeth. Communities in these countries also deal with skeletal fluorosis, a condition that can affect bones and joints with crippling pain and disfigurement.

In the U.S., thanks to public health, dental research, and environmental health science, skeletal fluorosis is not a problem, and severe dental fluorosis is rare. But to help make sure we keep both skeletal and severe dental fluorosis from becoming a problem here in the U.S., we've got to keep on top of it!

One way we can all keep up the good work America has done with preventing skeletal and severe dental fluorosis is to learn more about it. Well, you're in luck if you want to help in the fight against these health problems. Because we've got lots of articles on how to make sure you and your family are getting the right amount of fluoride, and not too much. And since severe fluorosis is a legit negative effect of too much fluoride, at the same time that fluoride is subject to conspiracy theories and pseudoscience, our articles will help you understand what's real science and what's hyped up falsehoods.

Check out these articles to get what you need to know:

icons of water and fluoride molecules

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