You’re flossing in front of the mirror one evening when you notice strange white spots on your two front teeth. No matter how often you brush, they don’t go away. What are they, why are they there, and how can you get rid of them?
These white spots aren’t usually painful and often don’t cause problems, but they can be unsightly. The most common causes of white spots on the teeth happen in childhood, and include:
- Dental fluorosis: There’s a reason we’re supposed to spit out toothpaste and not swallow it. Ingesting too much fluoride from toothpaste can cause white spots on the teeth. This is especially common in children who are still getting the hang of brushing, spitting and rinsing.
- Enamel hypoplasia: Sometimes during childhood when the teeth are still developing, the enamel doesn’t form properly. This can lead to tooth decay and white spots on the teeth.
Other causes of white spots on the teeth include poor dental hygiene, especially among those with braces. The enamel starts to demineralize, or break down, causing discoloration. White spots that occur for this reason are usually permanent. Eating too many acidic and/or sugary foods and drinks, which can also cause tooth decay, is another reason for white spots.
Treatment for White Spots on the Teeth
Want to get rid of those white spots that make you cringe when you look in the mirror? There are several treatments available to remove the discoloration, some you can do on your own, and some you need to pursue from a dentist.
Teeth whitening products can sometimes help, and they’re available over-the-counter at drug stores. You can also check with your dentist on a professional teeth whitening treatment, which is conducted in the office.
Another treatment option is topical fluoride, which a dentist can apply to the surface of your teeth if you have enamel hypoplasia. This treatment helps to strengthen and encourage development of enamel on the teeth. It not only can help treat the white spots, it can also help prevent tooth decay.
Enamel microabrasion is a procedure a dentist conducts to remove a small layer of enamel on the surface of the teeth, which thereby removes some of the white discoloration. It’s usually followed by teeth bleaching or whitening to make the teeth more cohesive in appearance and color.
Did you know dental veneers, which are thin, protective coverings that attach to the front surface of a tooth, conceal white spots nicely? They can also give the teeth one cohesive color and appearance.
There are a wide variety of treatment methods for white spots on the teeth, but you should talk to your dentist about the cause of your white spots first. If the cause is something permanent, like demineralization of tooth enamel from poor oral hygiene, you might need a treatment like dental veneers, since there is no reversing demineralization.
Overall, this type of discoloration on the teeth is usually painless and more of a nuisance than anything. But there are plenty of methods to remove them or cover them up. Talk to your dentist to find the right one for you.