Have you ever noticed white spots on your teeth or your child’s teeth? This white discoloration is called a white spot lesion that is a decalcification or hypo calcification of tooth enamel.
Decalcification of the teeth can cause many people to feel self-conscious about their smile. You may have wondered what those spots are, what causes them, and if they can be treated. Because several reasons for white spots exist, knowing what is causing the spots on your teeth may be the first step to doing something to remove or improve the look of them.
Here at Rother Dental, we are here to help you understand how white spots occur and are ready to discuss ways to improve the look of your teeth!
WHAT CAUSES WHITE SPOTS?
Tooth enamel is the hardest structure in the body.
Discolorations in enamel such as white spots can be the result of developmental disruption of enamel when teeth are forming or because of bacterial invasion of tooth enamel. The following are examples of both causes:
- Developmental Disruption
- Enamel Hypoplasia: When teeth develop with less enamel than normal, noticeable defects on the teeth can appear such as white spots. Enamel formation can be disrupted by several reasons including viral & bacteria infections, premature birth, malnutrition, and trauma to developing teeth.
- Dental Fluorosis: Although fluoride prevents tooth decay, too much fluoride intake under the age of 8 years can result in changes in the appearance of tooth enamel. Often, dental fluorosis appears as white, chalky spots or lines on the teeth.
- Amelogenesis Imperfecta: This inherited condition results in mutations during the enamel formation resulting in discoloration and defects in the teeth. Research shows that 1 in 14,000 people in the United States have this condition.
- Bacterial Invasion
- Demineralization/Hypocalcification: When minerals such as phosphorus and calcium are depleted from the tooth structure, tooth enamel weakens, and demineralizes. Our own saliva can help re-mineralize enamel structure because it is cleansing, acid neutralizing, and loaded with helpful minerals. Demineralization of enamel is caused when acidity and bacteria are more than your own saliva can control. This weakening of enamel causes discoloration, which can appear white. If left untreated, demineralization can lead to tooth decay.
ARE YOU AT RISK FOR WHITE SPOTS?
- Orthodontics – Risks for white spots are increased during fixed orthodontics due to the challenge of homecare and increased adherence of bacteria to orthodontic appliances.
- Poor Homecare – Poor brushing allows harmful bacteria to sit on tooth surfaces, which can weaken enamel.
- Poor Diet – Intake of foods and beverages that are high in sugar and carbohydrates can increase acid production that breaks down enamel.
- Dry Mouth – Because healthy saliva flow is essential for enamel mineralization and neutralization of acids, if your mouth is often dry, your teeth are not replenishing themselves properly and are susceptible to bacteria. Sometimes patients who take certain medications or are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy can have dry mouth issues.
CAN WHITE SPOTS BE REMOVED?
Because the reasons for white spots can vary, treatments vary as well. Here are some treatment options that you can discuss with Dr. Rother and his team:
- Whitening Treatments – Dr. Rother and his staff use whitening treatments most commonly to treat white spots. These treatments can be done safely in the office or by using custom trays at home.
- ICON Treatment – This in-office procedure is another option that Dr Rother offers for white spot treatment.
- Porcelain Veneers – Although Dr. Rother prefers to try conservative treatment for white spots first, if patients present with more involved discoloration that cannot be removed conservatively, porcelain veneers may be a good option for an esthetic improvement.
HOW CAN WHITE SPOTS BE PREVENTED?
- Improved Oral Homecare – Because the weakening of enamel that causes white spots is often a result of acid-producing bacteria, proper home care is one of the best ways to prevent white spots.
Rother Dental Recommends:
- Regular Dental Visits – Professional dental cleanings and periodic exams at Rother Dental will help to prevent white spots because professional cleanings remove bacteria and examinations detect tooth weaknesses before discoloration begins.
Rother Dental Provides:
- Personalized recommendation of cleaning frequency based on risk factors.
- X-rays to detect decay in the earliest stages. Typically, this means 12-month bitewing x-rays and 36-month full-mouth x-rays.
- In-office fluoride availability.
- Fluoride Treatments – Fluoride helps to strengthen enamel. Dr. Rother and his team offer in-office fluoride treatments and can also recommend appropriate fluoride for at-home use.
Rother Dental Offers:
- In-office fluoride varnish – This treatment is applied immediately after a dental cleaning.
- At-home fluoride/MI paste trays – This treatment can be done at home by placing prescribed paste or gel inside custom trays that are made by Rother Dental.
- Recommendations of over the counter fluoride products – At your dental appointment, the Rother Dental Team can provide recommendations.
Here at Rother Dental, we are here to provide you the best oral care so that you can smile with confidence. If you have concerns about white spots or any other tooth discolorations, please contact us today to discuss how we can help.