Most affected areas are Njoro, Nakuru town, Gilgil and Bahati where dentists report highest levels of dental fluorosis, especially in children.
While Nakuru has been known for high rates of dental fluorosis, a report from St Mary’s Hospital - Gilgil and Egerton University’s Njoro Dental Clinic says the problem is escalating.
The report published last Saturday says an investigation among 173 patients attending the two clinics found about 80 per cent to suffer dental fluorosis but as high as 100 per cent of children aged under 14 years.
Dental fluorosis is a teeth defect causing white or brown spots on the tooth surface or enamel, which in most cases are so mild that only a dentist can detect.
This permanent staining develops in the first eight years of life from consuming too much fluoride. The teeth can then continue discolouring from lacy white spots to yellow and then to dark brown.
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The mineral fluoride occurs naturally in soil, water and foods but consumption of too much may lead to dental or skeletal fluorosis, which can damage bones and joints.
Ground water in Nakuru areas has been known to contain high levels of fluoride many times above the allowable levels of 1.5 milligrammes per litre by the World Health Organisation.
The new report by a team from the St Mary’s Rift Valley Mission Hospital, Gilgil and University of Johannesburg, South Africa appeared on Saturday in the journal Environmental Geochemistry and Health.
The study carried out in February among adults and children in the two facilities reports the highest rates of fluorosis to occur in the younger group.
“This implies that rapid population growth and urbanisation has put much pressure on public water resources, leading to a strong reliance on fluoride contaminated groundwater,” says the report.
The authors suggest local government provide safe water while educating the public on the dangers of fluorosis in the study area.