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A review of fluorosis in the European Union: prevalence, risk factors and aesthetic issues.

Review article
Whelton HP, et al. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2004.


Fluoride has played a key role in caries prevention for the past 50 years but excessive ingestion of fluoride during tooth development may lead to dental fluorosis. Throughout Europe many vehicles have been, and are currently, employed for optimal fluoride delivery including drinking water, toothpaste, fluoride supplements, salt and milk. Several indices, both descriptive and aetiological, have been developed and used for measuring fluorosis. This factor, combined with the lack of use of a standardized method for measurement of fluorosis, has made comparison between studies difficult and assessment of trends in fluorosis prevalence unreliable. Overall the evidence would appear to indicate, however, that diffuse enamel opacities are more prevalent in fluoridated than in nonfluoridated communities and that their prevalence at the very mild level may be increasing. In addition to fluoridated drinking water, risk factors for fluorosis include inadvertent ingestion of fluoride toothpaste and the inappropriate use of fluoride supplements. The risk is of aesthetic concern primarily during the period of enamel development of the permanent central incisors, although this largely appears to be a cosmetic rather than a public-health issue. It is concluded that there is a need to co-ordinate studies measuring fluorosis throughout Europe and that development of a standardized photographic method would be useful. Furthermore, the aesthetic importance of fluorosis needs to be determined in more detail in each country in the light of each country's respective risk factors and dental health policies.


15016112 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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