While most patients can all agree that visible white spots on the surface of your teeth are less than desirable in appearance, the good news is medically they aren’t considered a serious cause for concern. When it comes to what’s causing your teeth to develop white spots, there are a few underlying causes behind why this happens.
Read on to learn what the causes are of white spots on the teeth, how you can treat them if they develop, and how to prevent them from coming back.
The Common Causes Of White Spots On Teeth
There are several possible causes of why white spots develop on the teeth.
One of the top contributing factors for patients developing white spots is because of dental fluorosis. Typically a harmless condition, patients typically get this when they are young if they consumed too much fluoride as a child. This condition only tends to develop before the teeth break through the gums, and is a common cause of white spots on teeth.
Much like fluorosis, Hypoplasia is a condition that occurs when a patient’s teeth enamel does not form properly as a child. Only occurring during childhood when a patient’s teeth are still in the development stage, enamel hypoplasia can increase the risk of a patient developing tooth decay, making you more susceptible to things like cavities and plaque buildup.
Poor Dental Hygiene
White spots on the teeth can also form due to an accumulation of harmful plaque bacteria. This is a result of poor oral hygiene, and not properly brushing and flossing on a regular basis, or for long enough to ensure your mouth is really clean. Insufficient oral hygiene or an inability to thoroughly remove plaque buildup causes the demineralization of the tooth, leaving a white spot behind.
Braces or Other Orthodontic Treatments
Orthodontic white spot lesions appear as little white cavities that can negatively impact the smile you’ve worked so hard to achieve with orthodontic treatments such as braces. These white spots are caused by plaque buildup on the teeth from not thoroughly cleaning your teeth. Plaque buildup causes decalcification and a white cavity forms on the surface of the tooth.
The types of foods and beverages you enjoy can also have a role in white spots developing on the teeth. This can be caused by nutrition, genetics or from excessive intake of eating too many acidic or sugary foods, in addition to poor oral hygiene habits.
Will Whitening Improve Spots on Teeth?
If your teeth have started to develop white spots, it’s not quite time to panic yet. There are several possible treatments for white spots on the teeth, and the suitability of these treatments may depend on the underlying cause of the white spots and why they have formed. Your teeth can become discolored by stains on the surface or by changes inside the tooth itself.
The three main types of tooth discoloration are:
- Extrinsic. This occurs when the outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is stained. Factors like drinking coffee, wine, or soda can also cause extrinsic stains.
- Intrinsic. When the inner structure of the tooth (the dentin) darkens or develops a yellow tint. This type of discoloration appears from too much exposure to fluoride as a child, the use of tetracycline antibiotics during pregnancy or during childhood, or from experiencing trauma to a tooth.
- Age-Related Discoloration. A combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. As we age the enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner and dentin naturally yellows over time.
Treating White Spots With Professional Help
When it comes to whitening your teeth, it’s always a great idea to check with your dental professional first before beginning any whitening regimen, especially if you are attempting to correct an issue such as white spots. Teeth whitening can help to reduce the appearance of white spots and other stains, and depending on the severity of your white spots, an at-home whitening kit may be effective enough. If your white spots are more severe, a professional whitening treatment may be necessary to eliminate the white spots.
White spots can be a big problem, but Dr. Phillippi is here to help restore your confidence in your smile! Ask us for a personalized recommendation on whitening products for your teeth today.