Determinants and mechanisms of enamel fluorosis

Gary M. Whitford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Enamel fluorosis occurs when fluoride concentrations in or in the vicinity of the forming enamel are excessive during its pre-emptive development. Fluoride concentrations in plasma, enamel and other tissues reflect the difference between intake and excretion, i.e. fluoride balance. In addition to the diet, modern sources of ingested fluoride include a variety of dental products, some of which have been identified as risk factors for fluorosis. Fluoride absorption is inversely related to dietary calcium which, at high concentrations, may cause net fluoride secretion into the gastrointestinal tract. The excretion of absorbed fluoride occurs almost exclusively via the kidneys, a process which is directly related to urinary pH. Thus, fluoride balance and tissue concentrations and the risk of fluorosis are increased by factors such as high protein diets, residence at high altitude, and certain metabolic and respiratory disorders that decrease pH. Factors that increase urinary pH and decrease the balance of fluoride include vegetarian diets, certain drugs and some other medical conditions. Although several other fluoride-induced effects might be involved in the aetiology of fluorosis, it now appears that inhibition of enzymatic degradation of amelogenins, which may delay their removal from the developing enamel and impair crystal growth, may be of critical importance. In addition to the effects of fluoride, disturbances in enamel formation that can be confused with fluorosis are caused by chronic acidosis and hypoxia independently of the level of fluoride exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-245
Number of pages20
JournalCIBA Foundation Symposia
Issue number205
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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