Teeth impacted by fluorosis have visible discoloration, ranging from white spots to brown and black stains.
Teeth with fluorosis also have an increased porosity of the enamel. In the milder forms, the porosity is mostly limited to the sub-surface enamel, whereas in the more advanced forms, the porosity impacts the surface enamel as well, resulting in extensive pitting, chipping, fracturing, and decay of the teeth.
The discoloration induced by fluorosis - particularly in its advanced forms - can cause significant embarrassment and stress to the impacted child, resulting in adverse effects on esteem, emotional health, and career success.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 32% of American children now have some form of dental fluorosis, with 2 to 4% of children having the moderate to severe stages (CDC 2005).
While proponents of water fluoridation dismiss dental fluorosis as being simply a "cosmetic effect," recent research indicates that the rate of bone fracture among children with fluorosis (even in the mild forms) is higher than the bone fracture rates among children with no fluorosis.