The nature and mechanisms of dental fluorosis in man

J Dent Res. 1990 Feb;69 Spec No:692-700; discussion 721. doi: 10.1177/00220345900690S135.


Any use of fluorides, whether systemic or topical, in caries prevention and treatment in children results in ingestion and absorption of fluoride into the blood circulation. The mineralization of teeth under formation may be affected so that dental fluorosis may occur. Dental fluorosis reflects an increasing porosity of the surface and subsurface enamel, causing the enamel to appear opaque. The clinical features represent a continuum of changes ranging from fine white opaque lines running across the tooth on all parts of the enamel to entirely chalky white teeth. In the latter cases, the enamel may be so porous (or hypomineralized) that the outer enamel breaks apart posteruptively and the exposed porous subsurface enamel becomes discolored. These changes can be classified clinically by the TF index to reflect, in an ordinal scale, the histopathological changes associated with dental fluorosis. Compared with Dean's and the TSIF index, we consider the TF index to be more precise. Recent studies on human enamel representing the entire spectrum of dental fluorosis have demonstrated a clear association between increasing TF score and increasing fluoride content of the enamel. So far, no useful data on dose (expressed in mg fluoride/kg b.w.)-response (dental fluorosis) relationships are available. In this paper, we have, therefore, re-evaluated the original data by Dean et al. (1941, 1942), Richards et al. (1967), and Butler et al. (1985) from the USA, by applying the equation of Galagan and Vermillion (1957) which permits the calculation of water intake as a function of temperature.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Enamel / drug effects*
  • Dental Enamel / pathology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fluorides / adverse effects*
  • Fluorosis, Dental / epidemiology
  • Fluorosis, Dental / etiology*
  • Fluorosis, Dental / pathology
  • Humans


  • Fluorides