When we talk about stains and discoloration on teeth, most people think about yellowing caused by drinking coffee or brown stains from tobacco. There’s another type of discoloration that is just as common, but harder to treat: white spots. If you have this type of discoloration on your teeth, read on to find out more about what they are and how you can treat them.
Why are there white spots on my teeth?
White spots are areas of a tooth that are a brighter shade of white than the rest. Depending on the difference in shades, these spots can be very noticeable and cause people to feel self-conscious about their smiles. There are a number of potential causes of white spots, including:
Sometimes the white spots on your teeth are a sign of enamel erosion. If you eat a lot of acidic foods, like citrus fruit and tomatoes, it can cause your enamel to erode. People who eat a lot of sweets are also at higher risk for white spots because sugar encourages plaque to form and plaque releases acid that wears away enamel.
Fluoride is a good thing, but too much fluoride exposure when the teeth are still developing can cause white spots to form. Infants who are fed formula made with tap water are likelier to have white spots on their teeth when they get older, as are children who swallow fluoride toothpaste while brushing.
Enamel hypoplasia is often caused by nutritional deficiency that leads to mineral loss in the teeth, like celiac disease. Antibiotics and smoking while pregnant can cause enamel hypoplasia in children.
Poor Oral Hygiene
When plaque is allowed to accumulate on the teeth, demineralization can occur in the enamel, causing white spots. This is especially common in patients who have had braces, as it is harder for them to clean plaque from around their brackets.
Correcting White Spots on Teeth
If you’ve tried to correct white spots on your own with teeth bleaching kits, you may have been disappointed to find that your teeth looked worse afterwards. It’s important to understand the cause of your white spots before choosing a treatment, as not all treatments work for all types of spots.
Treatments for white spots include:
- Microabrasion, which removes a layer of discolored enamel from the surface of the tooth.
- Bleaching, a treatment that will whiten the rest of the tooth to match the white spots—but doesn’t work when white spots are caused by fluorosis.
- Veneers and bonding, which can be used to cover over a tooth that has white spots.
If you visit us for a consultation, we can examine your teeth to determine the cause of your white spots, help you prevent future white spots from forming, and find the best treatment to eliminate your existing discoloration.