Patients come into our office with a lot of questions. Some people need a basic cleaning or have sensitivity in their teeth, but others are curious why they have these odd white spots on their teeth.
What causes white spots on teeth? Why did their pop up suddenly? How do you even get rid of them?
In our guide, we’re going to answer all of these cosmetic dentistry questions so that you can restore your beautiful smile.
What Causes White Spots on Teeth?
White spots have a lot of causes, and you’ll need to address them carefully and based on your unique situation.
Braces can do wonders for your smile. There are many patients who have braces and have been able to straighten out their teeth and have a beautiful smile afterward. However, some of these same individuals come into our office wondering why they’re developing these odd white spots on their teeth.
The main reason that braces cause these white spots are:
- Glue. Your braces are glued to your teeth, and this glue can lead to white spots.
- Oral hygiene. If you’re not maintaining proper oral hygiene with your braces, you can start to notice these spots appearing.
You may also suffer from decalcification, which is something everyone needs to be concerned about.
If you have braces and do not want to deal with white spots, it’s important to take preventative measures. The best thing you can do is to follow a proper oral hygiene routine for someone with braces.
Your routine should include:
- Brushing your teeth 2 – 3 times per day.
- Flossing every day.
- Being very cautious with your diet.
Diet is something that your dentist likely discussed with you when you got your braces. A few things that you’ll want to avoid are nuts, hard fruits, tough meat, stick foods, candies, bagels and fibrous veggies.
Your mouth is filled with good and bad bacteria. However, there are times when bacterial overgrowth will get out of control and then cause bacteria to grow on the teeth. In this case, the bacteria may lead to white spots forming on the teeth.
Due to acidity in the mouth, bacterial overgrowth can easily occur.
And then, if you have an acidic diet to begin with, you may be promoting this growth even further. People with acid reflux can further degrade their teeth thanks to the eventual breakdown of their tooth’s enamel.
As with any tooth-related issue, prevention means maintaining proper oral hygiene and brushing daily. On top of this, you’ll want to:
- Use mouthwash to try and prevent bacteria overgrowth
- Change your diet to lower your acidic intake
If you do these two things, you’ll be well on your way to preventing bacteria overgrowth in the first place.
Fluoride is one the most recommended additions to toothpaste, mouthwash and more. According to the Government of Canada, water fluoridation is one of the many factors that was responsible for lowering tooth decay in children from 74% between 1970 and 1972 to less than 25% today.
Yet, in children, too much fluoride can lead to white spots or streaks on the teeth.
How do you stop fluorosis from occurring in children?
- Mothers should try breastfeeding their children until they’re at least six months old, if possible
- Avoid giving your children fluoride supplements unless we explicitly mention it
- Avoid using any mouthwash containing fluoride until the child is at least six years old
Everyone's teeth rely on calcium – it's what they’re made from. If you maintain a diet very low in calcium, it can lead to brittle bones, teeth and white spots, too. Even the enamel on your teeth will begin to break down when you don’t consume enough calcium.
Thankfully, this is one of the easiest causes of white spots on teeth to deal with.
If you have low calcium because of your diet, you can:
- Begin taking calcium supplements to try and restore your calcium and stop the white spots from occurring.
- Change your diet to include more calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese, almonds and other foods high in calcium.
Of course, there are certain medical conditions that can lead to low calcium. In this case, medication may help or even make it worse.
Medications come with a long list of side effects, but rarely does this list include causing white spots on your teeth. However, the medication may help you solve one problem and cause another to get worse.
For example, antibiotics may cause you to have difficulty absorbing certain nutrients.
The lack of adequate nutrient absorption may cause problems with white spots. Additionally, the lack of key nutrients may allow tooth enamel to weaken and bacteria to enter into the enamel.
Medication should continue to be taken even if you have white spots on your teeth. Instead of stopping taking it, you’ll want to talk to your doctor. Perhaps you can switch to an alternative medication that will not cause the same issues.
Your doctor will help you discover the best course of action to take.
Smoking will cause your teeth to be yellow, and if you smoke while pregnant, smoking can cause your child to have white spots on their teeth. The main issue here is enamel hypoplasia. What does this mean?
Your child has less enamel than they normally would have.
The only way to prevent your child from the risk of enamel hypoplasia caused by your own smoking is to not smoke while pregnant. Smoking can lead to a wide range of issues for your child that goes well beyond spots on their teeth.
Treating White Spots on Teeth
Although they are considered generally harmless, there are still many treatment options for white spots on teeth. Some of the most common and effective treatments include:
Whitening is a simple way to help brighten your entire smile, which will make those white spots less noticeable.
Over-the-counter whitening products are available, including whitening toothpaste and strips. However, we also offer professional whitening services, including Zoom whitening and supervised at-home whitening kits.
We can discuss your whitening options to help you find the right one for your needs and budget.
In some cases, we may recommend enamel microabrasion to treat white spots. During this procedure, we remove a small amount of enamel from your tooth to reduce the appearance of the spots.
We may follow up with a bleaching treatment to help make the color of your teeth more uniform.
Dental veneers are thin coverings that are placed on the surface of your teeth to cover imperfections and discoloration.
Porcelain veneers can last for more than a decade with the proper care, and they will be made to look just like your natural teeth.
We can discuss whether veneers would be a good option for you or whether another treatment would be a better choice. Veneers are permanent, and the decision to get them should be made carefully.
Another treatment option for white spots is a topical fluoride treatment. We can apply fluoride to your teeth if you have enamel hypoplasia.
The treatment can help encourage the development of enamel and also help prevent tooth decay.
Your final option is to have a composite resin placed on the tooth. The resin will fill in the cavities and will bond to the outer enamel of the tooth. Our team will need to examine your teeth and the white spots that you have to determine if this is a good option for you or not.
When there’s an abundance of white spots, this treatment is less viable.
4 Tips to Help Prevent White Spots on Teeth
There are many steps you can take to help prevent white spots on your teeth. These steps include:
1. Use the Right Amount of Toothpaste
Using the right amount of toothpaste is key to helping prevent white spots on your teeth or your children’s teeth.
- Children under three years of age should not be using more than just a smear of toothpaste when brushing.
- Children over the age of three should use about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Many young children struggle to spit their toothpaste out, so using just a small amount can help prevent overexposure to fluoride.
Parents should ensure they’re supervising their child’s brushing and using the right amount of toothpaste.
As an adult, you should also make sure that you’re only using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when brushing.
2. Reduce Your Consumption of Sugary and Acidic Drinks
Sugary and acidic foods and drinks can damage tooth enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay.
Some of the biggest offenders include:
- Hard candy
- Sugary sweets
- Citrus fruits, like oranges, grapefruits and lemons
- Sports drinks
Consuming these foods and drinks on occasion may be okay, but excessive consumption can lead to white spots on your teeth and other damage to your oral health.
Have a glass of water after consuming these foods and drinks to help reduce the risk of white spots and other oral health issues.
3. Check Fluoride Levels in the Water
Whether you have private well water or are connected to city water, have your water tested to check its fluoride levels.
If you have a baby who is feeding on infant formula, then consider using fluoride-free water when preparing their formula. This can help prevent excess buildup of fluoride that can lead to white spots.
4. Visiting the Dentist Regularly
Make sure that you’re visiting your dentist regularly and taking good care of your teeth. Visit our office for cleanings and exams every year. Regular visits can help us spot issues early on and treat them before they become a major issue in the future.
While white spots are usually not a cause for concern, we may be able to recommend a treatment that will help you feel more confident in your smile.
If you notice that your white spots are changing in size or are also accompanied by pain, make sure that you give our office a call. We will evaluate your teeth and create a treatment plan to help restore your oral health.
FAQs: White Spots on Teeth
Do White Spots Go Away on Their Own?
In many cases, white spots are reversible. We can perform a number of different treatments to help get rid of the white spots on your teeth. However, they may not go away on their own. So, visiting a dentist is the best way to treat this problem.
Some of the many treatments we may recommend for white spots are:
- Topical fluoride treatment using 5,000 ppm fluoride dentifrice.
- Bleach-based whitening, which can help make the entire tooth look whiter. We can discuss in-office whitening options as well as supervised at-home kits you can use to help whiten your teeth.
- Microabrasion, which removes just a thin layer of the surface enamel.
- Veneers, which are thin, tooth-shaped caps that are placed over the teeth to cover surface stains.
Visiting a dental professional who offers cosmetic dentistry is the best way to ensure that your white spots are treated using safe and effective methods.
What Do White Spots on Your Teeth Mean?
When patients find white spots on their teeth, their first question is – what does it mean? Many patients are concerned that these spots are a sign that something is wrong.
Generally, white spots are not harmful to your teeth. That being said, they can also be an early sign of decay. That’s why it’s so important to visit our office regularly for exams. If a white spot does indicate decay, we can take steps now to prevent that decay from getting worse.
If you have white spots on your teeth, you do have options to correct the issue. Our dental team will examine your teeth and recommend a course of action that we’re confident will remove those pesky white spots.