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J Am Dent Assoc. 1999 Mar;130(3):347-56.

Fluorosis of the primary dentition: what does it mean for permanent teeth?

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University of Iowa, College of Dentistry, Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, Iowa City 52242-1010, USA.



The prevalence of fluorosis of the permanent teeth has increased during the past few decades in the United States and Canada. However, primary-tooth fluorosis has been largely overlooked, because it is often difficult to recognize. This article describes primary-tooth fluorosis, both as characterized in the literature and as seen clinically.


The authors review and summarize previous studies of primary-tooth fluorosis and discuss its etiology. In addition, the authors describe the condition, based on findings from the literature, and their own experiences in characterizing it as part of a longitudinal investigation of fluoride exposures, dental fluorosis and dental caries.


Several studies indicate that primary-tooth fluorosis can be prevalent and severe in areas of very high water fluoride concentrations. In these areas, primary-tooth fluorosis is likely the result of both pre- and postnatal exposures. Studies have documented that primary-tooth fluorosis does occur in areas with optimal or suboptimal water fluoride concentrations, and that in these settings primary-tooth fluorosis is most likely caused by postnatal exposures and is seen most commonly in the primary molars. Primary-tooth fluorosis, however, is often more difficult to identify than fluorosis in permanent teeth, and clinicians may be unfamiliar with its characteristics and may not recognize its somewhat subtle appearance.


Primary-tooth fluorosis may be related to occurrence of fluorosis in the permanent dentition, so that its recognition by the clinician should raise awareness of possible increased risk for the permanent dentition.


The detection of primary-tooth fluorosis in a young child should prompt the clinician to carefully review the child's past fluoride exposures and current fluoride practices, as well as those of any younger siblings.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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