What Are Those White Spots On My Teeth?

Park Ridge DentistTHERE ARE A LOT of things that can leave stains on our teeth, and stains can come in many different colors. You could see yellow stains, brown stains, or even the temporary stain from eating brightly colored candy, but what about when the stain is white? Where do those white spots come from, and is there anything we can do about it?

White Spots From Fluorosis

Surface stains that affect the tooth enamel sometimes appear on a tooth that is otherwise healthy. One cause of this kind of stain is fluorosis. Fluorosis occurs when developing adult teeth are exposed to too much fluoride. It doesn’t damage the teeth, but it does unevenly bleach them, leaving white spots on them before they even grow in.

To avoid white spots from fluorosis, make sure to limit the amount of fluoride toothpaste you use when brushing your child’s teeth. A tiny smear (no bigger than a grain of rice) is sufficient for babies and toddlers, and a pea-sized dab is the most you should use for a young child. When they begin brushing their own teeth, encourage them to continue going easy on the toothpaste.

The Effects Of Demineralization

A more harmful cause of white spots is demineralization. Demineralization is the gradual leaching of crucial minerals like calcium from the tooth enamel. Plaque buildup and acid exposure over time lead to demineralization, and people with braces are particularly susceptible to it.

Preventing demineralization is all about good brushing and flossing habits, as well as regular dental visits. We all should be brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and orthodontic patients should take extra care to clean away all the food residue and plaquearound the brackets to avoid white spots when the braces come off.

Enamel Hypoplasia

For an unlucky minority, white spots don’t come from demineralization or fluorosis, but from enamel hypoplasia, a condition that leaves the teeth with thinner enamel than usual and therefore more vulnerable to stains and decay. Causes of enamel hypoplasia in a child’s teeth include the mother smoking while pregnant, malnutrition, and premature birth.

Treating White Spots

It’s always better to prevent white spots from developing to begin with, but if they do appear, there are a few ways to treat them, such as microabrasion and bleaching. With microabrasion, a thin layer of enamel is scraped away to restore the tooth’s uniform appearance. Whitening treatments can improve the results of microabrasion even more, or it can be its own solution, as with bleaching. If you choose the bleaching route, we recommend professional whitening, whether in the dentist’s office or using a dentist-approved home whitening kit, for the best possible results.

Not all stains can be removed with these methods, and in these cases, veneers are an excellent option. The way these work is that the dentist attaches thin pieces of porcelain to the teeth, for a natural, uniform, white appearance.

Do You Have White Spots?

If white spots on your teeth have been bothering you and making you less confident in your smile, come see us so that we can determine the best solution. We want all our patients to be able to share their smiles freely!

Keep up that brushing and flossing, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Matteo Martinello used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

What To Do About White Spots

family dentist in park ridge ilHAVE YOU EVER NOTICED white spots on your own or someone else’s teeth? When we think of stains, we usually think of dark colors, but stains on teeth can just as easily be whiter than the surrounding area. These white spots can happen for a few different reasons, and there are a few different ways to remove them.

Causes Of White Spots

Stains can affect the outside of the tooth and the inside. White spots are surface stains affecting the enamel, and they can occur on an otherwise healthy tooth. These spots are most commonly caused by fluorosis and demineralization.

Fluorosis occurs when the adult teeth are exposed to too much fluoride while still developing beneath the gums. This doesn’t damage the teeth, it just unevenly bleaches them. The best way to avoid fluorosis is to make sure your child doesn’t use too much toothpaste before their adult teeth start coming in. Just a pea-sized dab is enough for a young child, and no more than a smear the size of a grain of rice should be used for babies and toddlers.

Demineralization is far more harmful than fluorosis, as it involves the leaching of minerals out of the enamel through exposure to acids. This happens when plaque isn’t cleaned away effectively. Good brushing habits and regular dental cleanings are crucial for preventing this problem. Demineralization is a particular risk for people with braces, so make extra sure to clean around those brackets!

Another cause of white spots is enamel hypoplasia, meaning enamel is thinner than usual, leaving the teeth more vulnerable to stains and decay. This condition can be caused in a child’s teeth when the mother smokes while pregnant, and it can also be caused by malnutrition and premature birth.

Treatment Options For White Spots

The best thing to do is always to prevent the white spots from developing in the first place, but when they do form, there are a few different ways they can be treated. With the microabrasion route, a thin layer of enamel is carefully removed to give the teeth a more uniform appearance. This can be paired with whitening treatments.

Another way of giving your teeth more balanced color is bleaching. Over-the-counter bleaching kits do help, but we recommend professional whitening at our office or dentist-approved take-home kits for best results.
In cases of particularly severe staining that can’t be corrected with bleaching, veneers are an excellent option. The dentist attaches thin porcelain to the teeth, which gives them a natural, white appearance.

cosmetic dentist park ridge

If you’re more worried about yellowing teeth than white spots, check out this video:

 

 

Let’s See Those Pearly Whites!

If you have white spots on your teeth, come see us so that we can figure out the best way to get you the bright, beautiful smile you deserve. We’re committed to our patients’ dental health and happiness!

Keep taking care of your beautiful smile between visits!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.