15 Apr 2017
Nobody wants to deal with a discolored smile, and while white spots on teeth aren’t as common an issue as yellowing teeth, they still affect many people each year. But what causes white spots on teeth, and what can you do to resolve this issue so you can enjoy a brighter smile? Here’s what you should know.
Causes of White Spots on Teeth
There are several potential culprits behind the appearance of white spots on your teeth. These are some of the more common causes:
Fluorosis: This condition can cause white spots on the teeth after an individual ingests too much fluoride while the teeth are forming (during infancy and early childhood). Swallowing toothpaste, the use of fluoride tablets, and drinking fluoridated water can all contribute to this condition, which leaves white or yellow spots on the enamel. This doesn’t mean you should have your kids stop using fluoride! Fluorosis typically only occurs when excessive fluoride is accidentally consumed — supervising your child’s brushing is usually enough to keep this from happening. Monitoring your fluoride intake during pregnancy can also help prevent this condition in your own children.
Plaque Buildup: Yes, poor brushing habits could very easily be to blame for the sudden appearance of white spots on teeth. Also referred to as demineralization, this condition is most common among individuals who wear braces, as they aren’t able to remove plaque as effectively. Plaque buildup can also be identified by the appearance of scaly “spots” close to the gum line. Ensuring that you are brushing properly and thoroughly is the best way to avoid the buildup of bacterial plaque.
Enamel Hypoplasia: Enamel hypoplasia is another condition that often has its roots in childhood. A disruption in the formation of your enamel (often caused by prenatal smoking or premature birth) often results in this condition. However, deficiencies in the diet, side effects from medications, and even high fevers can also cause enamel hypoplasia. In addition to leaving white or yellow spots on the teeth, this condition also puts the affected teeth at a higher risk of decay and disease.
Cavities: While you might be tempted to think that those white spots on your teeth are nothing more than a cosmetic issue, quite often, they are a sign that a cavity is starting to develop. Tooth enamel often takes on a bright white appearance as bacterial decay begins. It should come as no surprise that healthy brushing and flossing habits are your best bet to avoid this common dental problem.
Treating White Spots on Teeth
So what can be done if you have white spots on your teeth? Naturally, if a cavity or excessive plaque buildup is to blame, you should get the help of a dentist to treat the root of the problem before you start worrying about cleaning up spots on your teeth. However, once any serious underlying problems have been dealt with, there are several methods that can be used to treat your white spots.
Bleaching: The most common form of teeth whitening is also a good way to deal with those pesky white spots. It is recommended that you get a take-home bleaching product from your dentist, rather than buy an over the counter product. Bleaching products supplied by your dentist are generally able to get better results.
Veneers: If you have large white spots on your teeth that can’t be effectively treated by bleaching, you might want to consider porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are most often attached to the front of teeth that have large discolored patches to create a natural-looking, stain-resistant surface.