White Spots on Teeth

Why Do I Have White Spots on my Teeth?

There are many reasons why white spots can form on the teeth, including disease, poor oral hygiene, diet, and environmental factors.

While white spots on teeth can be unsightly, they usually do not indicate a serious issue and can usually be reversed once the cause is determined.

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What Causes White Spots on Teeth?

Some common causes of white spots on teeth include:

Fluorosis 

Dental fluorosis is the appearance of white lines or streaks on the tooth enamel, caused by consuming an excessive amount of fluoride. Fluorosis often results when children regularly consume fluoride during their first years of life when teeth are just being formed.

Bacterial Overgrowth (Demineralization)

The more bacteria and plaque are in your mouth, the more likely it is that they’ll erode your enamel and create white spots, a process called demineralization.

During demineralization, mineral ions and crystals are lost from the tooth’s surface, making the teeth more sensitive to heat, cold, pressure, and pain. Demineralization increases your risk for tooth decay.

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Vitamin Deficiencies 

A diet low in calcium and phosphorus and high in acidic foods and drinks can significantly weaken the teeth and cause white spots.

Mouth Breathing While Sleeping

Breathing through your mouth while sleeping can cause your teeth to become dehydrated, leading to white spots.

Enamel Hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a dental condition when the tooth enamel is thinner or less mineralized than usual. This condition can cause white spots to appear on the teeth.

Enamel hypoplasia is caused by numerous factors, including lack of proper nutrients in the diet, high fevers due to illnesses, smoking during pregnancy, and being a premature baby. 

Smoking During Pregnancy 

Smoking tobacco during pregnancy can cause your child to develop enamel hypoplasia, which results in white spots on the teeth.

High Fevers 

A high fever in a child can cause a loss of minerals in the teeth, leading to the formation of white spots. Mineral loss from a fever is more likely during permanent tooth development during the first eight years of a child’s life. 

Certain Medications

Certain medications can cause white spots on your teeth. Antibiotics can interfere with the way your body absorbs nutrients and can impact the way your mouth builds tooth enamel. When the enamel is weakened, it is more susceptible to bacteria. 

Braces

Having braces makes your teeth particularly vulnerable to decalcification, which causes white spots on teeth. Wearing braces can make it difficult to reach all those tiny crevices where plaque can build up and cause decalcification, leading to white spots on teeth.

Teeth Whitening (Bleaching)

Bleaching or whitening your teeth can help eliminate white spots on your teeth. During a professional teeth whitening treatment, a dentist will use one of two bleaches that are safe for your teeth during teeth whitening: hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The bleach will break up your white spots into more minor stains, making them less noticeable and your teeth brighter. 

How to Get Rid of White Spots on Teeth at Home

Here are three ways to get rid of white spots on teeth:

1. At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits

Using an at-home teeth whitening kit to whiten or bleach the teeth can reduce the appearance of white spots and other teeth stains

2. Reduce Fluoride Intake

Consuming too much fluoride can cause small white spots. To prevent this, reduce your fluoride intake.

3. MI Paste 

MI paste is a milk-based topical paste prescribed by your dentist. It can help replenish calcium and phosphate lost to strengthen teeth and reduce white spots. 

How to Get Rid of White Spots on Teeth Professionally

Here are five ways to get rid of white spots on teeth in a dentist's office:

1. Veneers

Dental veneers can help to eliminate the appearance of white spots on your teeth. Veneers are protective coverings for the teeth that are specially designed by a dentist, and can dramatically alter your tooth color and shape.

2. Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a cosmetic dental procedure that involves applying a custom-tinted composite resin to the teeth to cover imperfections and discoloration. Bonding usually only takes one dental office appointment, and its results may last for several years.

3. Enamel Microabrasion 

Enamel microabrasion is a cosmetic procedure used to whiten teeth and remove white spots. During an enamel microabrasion treatment, a dentist will use physical instruments to mechanically remove discolored enamel while taking steps to reduce overall enamel loss.

4. Professional Teeth Whitening Treatment

Professional teeth whitening treatments use more robust bleaching solutions than those available over the counter, making them more effective.

5. Topical Fluoride Treatment

During a topical fluoride treatment, a dentist may apply topical fluoride to the teeth of people with enamel hypoplasia. Using fluoride encourages the development of enamel on the teeth and helps prevent tooth decay.

What are the Consequences of White Spots on Teeth?

Although white spots on the teeth can be unappealing, they are usually not a cause for concern. 

However, depending on the cause, people with white spots on teeth may be at an increased risk of dental damage and decay.

If you notice that the white spots on your teeth are changing in size or number or are starting to have tooth pain, you should see your dentist. A dentist can evaluate your teeth's symptoms and condition and recommend a treatment plan, if necessary.

Tips: How to Prevent White Spots on Teeth

To prevent white spots on teeth, start by practicing good oral hygiene. Some ways to improve your dental health and prevent white spots from forming on your teeth include:

  • Brush and floss twice daily.
  • Use an electric toothbrush to reduce plaque buildup.
  • Eat less sugar and acidic foods.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste designed to remineralize enamel and protect your teeth from white spots.
  • If you’re pregnant, quit smoking. 
  • Take calcium supplements to strengthen teeth.

Resources

Abou Neel, Ensanya Ali et al. “Demineralization-remineralization dynamics in teeth and bone.” International journal of nanomedicine vol. 11 4743-4763. 19 Sep. 2016, doi:10.2147/IJN.S107624 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5034904/#:~:text=Demineralization%20is%20the%20process%20of,HA%20crystals%20is%20called%20remineralization

Garg, Nishita et al. “Essentiality of early diagnosis of molar incisor hypomineralization in children and review of its clinical presentation, etiology and management.” International journal of clinical pediatric dentistry vol. 5,3 (2012): 190-6. doi:10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1164 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4155885/ 

How To Get Rid Of White Spots On Teeth, Colgate, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/developmental-disabilities/how-to-get-rid-of-white-spots-on-teeth 

“Fluorosis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Mar. 2019, www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/faqs/dental_fluorosis/index.htm 

Pini, Núbia Inocencya Pavesi et al. “Enamel microabrasion: An overview of clinical and scientific considerations.” World journal of clinical cases vol. 3,1 (2015): 34-41. doi:10.12998/wjcc.v3.i1.34 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295217/ 

Senft, Mitchel. “Spots Caused by Tooth Dehydration.” The Palm Beach Post, The Palm Beach Post, 29 Oct. 2013, www.palmbeachpost.com/article/20131028/SPONSORED/812029450

Sherwood, I Anand. “Fluorosis varied treatment options.” Journal of conservative dentistry : JCD vol. 13,1 (2010): 47-53. doi:10.4103/0972-0707.62631 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883808/

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