The fluorosis is can affect a disease that different areas of the body. To combat fluorosis, excessive fluoride intake must first be stopped.
What is fluorosis?
In medicine, the term fluorosis is used to summarize diseases that can be traced back to an oversupply of the human organism with fluorine (a mineral that is found in bones and teeth, among other things).
According to FOODANDDRINKJOURNAL.COM, the forms of fluorosis include, for example, dental and bone fluorosis (skeletal fluorosis). While dental fluorosis makes up the most common cases of fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis occurs comparatively rarely. If dental fluorosis is present, it can manifest itself, for example, in brownish-yellowish or chalky-white discoloration of the teeth, depending on the severity.
The resistance of tooth enamel to tooth decay is reduced in the case of fluorosis, which affects the teeth. In the context of fluorosis, which occurs in the bones, hardening or compaction of bone material can occur, among other things; as a result, the affected bones lose their elasticity and become more brittle.
Fluorosis is caused by a long-term excessive intake of fluoride. One of the possible causes of such an oversupply with fluorine is, for example, the long-term intake of drinking water that has a naturally high fluoride saturation. In various countries, fluorine is added to drinking water, which is why an increased incidence of fluorosis has been observed in corresponding areas.
Fluorine in the body can also be chronically overdosed from long-term use of fluoride preparations that are highly concentrated. Since various products for dental care are also enriched with fluorine, fluorosis, especially in children, can occasionally be traced back to frequent swallowing of the corresponding toothpaste during tooth cleaning.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
Depending on the type of fluorosis, the disease can cause a number of symptoms and complaints. With dental fluorosis, brown to white discoloration and stains appear on the teeth, which increase over time and can ultimately also cause psychological complaints. At first, bone fluorosis does not produce any clear symptoms.
As the disease progresses, the spine becomes stiffened and the bones thicken, making the bones and joints more sensitive. Those affected suffer more often bone fractures and are physically less productive overall. Bone fluorosis can cause permanent restricted mobility as well as joint wear, poor posture and other secondary problems.
Acute fluoride poisoning leads to nausea and vomiting after a few minutes to hours. People have diarrhea, abdominal pain, and occasionally constipation. In the course of the disease, impaired consciousness such as dizziness and failure symptoms can occur.
In addition, there are cardiovascular complaints, which can be expressed, for example, by sweating, palpitations and panic attacks. The symptoms of fluorosis can develop insidiously or occur acutely, always depending on how intensively the person concerned is exposed to the substance. With early treatment, serious complications can be reliably avoided.
Diagnosis & course
Diagnostics vary depending on the type of fluorosis; the suspected diagnosis of dental fluorosis can often be made by a dentist based on the symptoms that are typically present.
If there is a suspicion of fluorosis affecting the bones, so-called imaging methods such as x-rays can provide further diagnostic information: an existing skeletal fluorosis can be recognized on x-rays, for example, due to significant new bone formation, which makes the bones appear completely white. General indications of fluorosis can also be obtained from a person’s blood count.
If no countermeasures are taken to combat an existing fluorosis, the symptoms usually increase as the disease progresses. While dental fluorosis can show itself in the initial stage, for example, by only minimal discoloration of the teeth, the teeth often take on flat, chalky-white discoloration in later stages; the teeth become increasingly porous and can decompose. Later stages of bone fluorosis can, in some cases, lead to limited joint mobility, for example, due to the formation of new bone.
In the worst case, fluorosis can lead to death. However, this case is only achieved if the increased supply of fluorine is not stopped. In most cases, fluorosis stains the teeth. These can be white or brown.
The bones are also less resilient, so that the risk of a bone fracture is increased. Fluorosis also includes diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. The quality of life is reduced by the symptom, heavy physical exertion can no longer be carried out.
If the fluorosis is stopped, the symptoms can regress so that there are no further complications. Since the teeth are also affected by fluorosis, treatment by the dentist is necessary to repair the damage. Usually it is possible to restore the teeth or replace them with implants.
This means that there are no further complaints. If the fluorosis occurs acutely due to the increased intake of fluorine, it can lead to death. Therefore, urgent medical care is necessary in this case. Most often the patient’s stomach is flushed out.
When should you go to the doctor?
Acute fluoride poisoning must be treated immediately. For example, if a child has swallowed a whole tube of toothpaste, a visit to the doctor is indicated. Warning signs of poisoning include nausea and vomiting, paleness and diarrhea.
Blood clotting disorders and cardiac arrhythmias can also occur, which must also be clarified immediately. Fluorosis does not necessarily have to be treated. Most of the time, the symptoms only affect the teeth and recede as soon as the person concerned changes to another toothpaste or the intake of fluorine tablets is reduced.
If you have a very visible yellowish-brown discoloration, you should definitely go to the dentist. Usually the affected teeth have to be extracted to prevent them from spreading. A doctor’s visit is also required if the use of toothpaste containing fluorine causes further discomfort.
For example, if you have gastrointestinal complaints or headaches you should go to your family doctor, who can determine a possible fluorosis and refer the patient to a dentist. Patients with fluorosis should have regular medical examinations to rule out complications.
Treatment & Therapy
If fluorosis has been diagnosed, it is first important to interrupt the excessive supply of fluorine. If this is possible, disease-related changes to the bones can partially regress again.
Which treatment steps follow the regulation of the supplied amount of fluoride in the case of dental fluorosis depends on the tooth damage that has already occurred as a result of the disease. As a rule, one goal in dentistry is to preserve damaged teeth. However, if one or more teeth are severely damaged by the effects of fluorosis, it may be necessary to remove the corresponding teeth or replace them artificially.
So-called acute fluorosis (fluoride poisoning) requires emergency medical care in some cases or (especially in children) can be life-threatening. Acute fluorosis of this kind can occur as a result of a one-time ingestion (usually unintentional), toxic amount of fluorine. Medical measures for acute fluorosis include rinsing the stomach; ideally, this should be done no later than two hours after ingestion of the fluoride.
Outlook & forecast
In the case of fluorosis, a distinction must be made between the acute and chronic forms. Acute fluorosis, while uncomfortable, is not dangerous in an otherwise healthy adult. Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea occur and accompanying paresthesia can occur. As soon as the excess fluoride is excreted, the symptoms go away and the patient is soon better. In children, the toxic dose of fluoride is lower, so they can experience worse symptoms than in adults.
Chronic fluorosis has more long-term effects that can be felt in the bones or teeth. In the teeth, excessive supply of fluoride leads to white spots and light, large-area discoloration on the teeth. Depending on the degree of severity, the stained appearance represents an aesthetic problem for the person concerned. In addition, the teeth wear out more quickly in the affected areas, as this is a change in the mineral composition of the tooth enamel and it can no longer guarantee adequate protection of the teeth.
When fluorosis affects the bones, certain structures of the bones thicken, making them more prone to breakage and fractures. In addition, the joints can be restricted in their mobility or, in the worst case, cannot move at all if they are affected by the thickening caused by the fluorosis.
Fluorosis can be prevented by controlling the amount of fluoride you have consumed (as far as possible). If fluoride preparations are taken for health reasons, it can make sense (if medically justifiable in the individual case) to avoid a dose that exceeds a daily fluoride amount of 2 milligrams.
The measures or options for follow-up care for fluorosis are very much dependent on the exact cause and the exact symptoms of the fluorosis. For this reason, no general prognosis can be given here. First and foremost, however, the disease itself or its underlying disease must be treated, whereby the increased supply of fluoride must first be stopped.
If the fluorosis is poisoning, no further follow-up measures are usually necessary. After the detoxification, the person concerned should avoid the increased source of fluoride and not ingest the increased amount again. In doing so, it is important to ensure proper nutrition, and a doctor can also provide help.
If the fluorosis causes damage to the teeth, they must be treated properly. As a rule, a dentist should be seen immediately after the detox in order to prevent further complications in the oral cavity. However, if the amount of fluoride is very high, go to a hospital or call an emergency doctor immediately. It cannot generally be predicted whether the disease will lead to a reduced life expectancy.
You can do that yourself
First of all, all sources of fluorine in the household should be checked: In some cases, toothpaste and table salt contain very large amounts. Fluoride-free toothpaste and additive-free salt are available in stores. If children are given fluorine tablets as part of dental prophylaxis, their continued use should be discussed with the attending physician.
Since fluorine attacks the calcium reserves in the body, attention should be paid to a diet rich in vital substances and calcium. In this way, the body’s own depots can be replenished. Dairy products and green vegetables such as broccoli and kale are particularly rich in calcium. Mineral water can also contribute to a good calcium supply.
Existing discoloration on the teeth can be counteracted with coconut oil. This has a lightening and antibacterial effect at the same time. The dentist will always try to preserve diseased teeth. In some cases, however, an exchange with artificial dentures must be carried out. In acute fluorosis – which often affects children – emergency medical treatment is necessary. In the hospital, the stomach is first pumped out and flushed in order to contain the poisoning reaction.
Homeopathy offers an alternative to protect teeth from tooth decay without adding fluoride. The agents Calcium fluoratum (D12), Calcium phosphoricum (D6) and Silicea also have a strengthening effect on teeth, gums and oral flora. A balanced acid-base balance is also important, as acidic oral flora attacks the tooth enamel.