Many people develop white spots on teeth due to different reasons. They’re a type of tooth discolouration and can be indicative of structural damage. White spots on teeth appear visibly even if you already have “white teeth.” Therefore, it can also cause cosmetic problems.
While white marks on teeth are usually a cause for concern, that’s not always the case. In some cases, it only appears for a short while before going away. However, it’s important to understand the different causes of this problem so that you can get the right treatment.
What Do White Spots On Teeth Mean?
White spots on teeth, also known as white spot lesions, are usually indicative of tooth decay. They appear as bright white opacities. It is possible for these white spots to be circular, linear, or irregularly distributed across the tooth’s surface. Some people only have them on a couple of teeth, while others have them on most of their teeth.
The following classification of white spots on teeth has been reported in a study published in the International Journal of Oral and Dental Health:
- Class 0: Opacity is completely absent or less than 1mm.
- Class 1: A third of the tooth’s surface has opacity.
- Class 2: One-third to two-thirds of the tooth’s surface has opacity.
- Class 3: More than two-thirds of the tooth’s surface has opacity.
Your dentist should be able to see white marks on teeth in a physical exam, or they may blow small puffs of air on the teeth to detect their presence.
What Cause White Spots On Teeth?
White spots on teeth can develop due to different reasons, which are as follows:
A white dot on teeth can develop as a result of loss of calcium and other minerals from the enamel – the hard, protective outer covering of teeth.
This can happen as a result of the formation of plaque on the teeth, where the bacteria in the plaque excrete acids that break down the enamel. As the bacteria eat away the enamel, it’s demineralised, left porous and prone to cavities. Hence, you have white calcium spots on teeth.
White dots on teeth are very common among people with braces. The white specks can appear as early as one month after the orthodontic treatment begins. One study published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Research found that almost 42% of the participants who wear braces end up with at least one white speck on their teeth.
These lesions can usually be seen around the brackets that are fixed on the teeth or near the gum line. You may even find these white spots beneath the brackets after the braces are removed.
This happens because it’s difficult to keep the teeth clean with braces. Plaque and demineralization may occur as a result of the bristles of the brush not adequately accessing the area around the braces. Fortunately, researchers have found that the incidence of white lesions decreases 1-2 years after braces are removed.
Enamel hypoplasia or Turner’s tooth is a defect in the development of tooth enamel, making it thinner than normal. This can cause white spots on children’s teeth. Enamel hypoplasia affects the teeth even before they erupt. Plaque is more difficult to remove from hypoplastic teeth, making them more likely to develop cavities and white spots. This condition is hereditary and can develop due to the following reasons:
- Nutritional deficiencies (Autoimmune Celiac disease causes malabsorption of many nutrients)
- High fever
- Smoking before birth
- Premature birth
- Dental trauma
The intake of excessive fluoride can result in a condition known as fluorosis. This usually affects children under the age of 8. It can result in the formation of white streaks on teeth. Fluorosis can also cause yellow and brown spots. Common reasons why this condition occurs include:
- Drinking water from the tap instead of a bottle.
- Taking fluoride supplements.
- Swallowing dental hygiene products that contain fluoride (toothpaste, oral rinse)
A poor diet can also result in the formation of white spots on teeth. It can happen if you’re not consuming enough calcium. Or it may be a result of tooth decay from overconsumption of sugary and acidic foods. These foods promote plaque formation, which can cause demineralisation and even decay. As a result, you’ll end up with white patches on teeth.
If you’re dehydrated, you can end up with white spots on teeth temporarily. This is something that can happen if you sleep with your mouth open. However, once you have enough fluid in the body, together with saliva, it will make the white patches go away.
This problem may be more persistent if you suffer from a condition known as xerostomia, also known as dry mouth. This can happen as we age or as a result of radiation therapy. This problem can be worsened by excessive intake of alcohol.
In this, the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to hydrate the mouth at all times. This can create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. As a result, you may experience demineralisation and tooth decay.
How To Get Rid Of White Spots On Teeth At Home?
The treatment for white spots on teeth depends on the cause of the problem. For some of them, it is possible to find a remedy at home.
Improve Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is one of the most common causes of white stains on teeth. It’s important that you brush twice a day for two minutes, using the right technique, toothbrush and toothpaste. You can also follow it up with the use of an antiseptic oral rinse. More importantly, you should not forget to floss as a toothbrush cannot get in the areas between the teeth.
If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, you can consider using an oral water irrigation system, such as Waterpik. It may be even more effective than traditional dental floss. By using this, you can keep your braces, teeth, and gums clean.
Change Eating Habits
In addition to improving your oral hygiene, you also need to change your eating habits as they can contribute to the problem. Here, you should cut down on acidic fruits like oranges and lemons and drinks like sodas, teas, and coffees. The more water you drink, the better it is for your teeth.
Monitor Fluoride Intake
For children younger than 3, your dentist may recommend using rice-grain-sized toothpaste. And it’s pea-sized for children older than 3. You need to monitor how much fluoride toothpaste your child is using. Additionally, you should make sure that they spit the toothpaste out instead of swallowing it. Moreover, no more drinking tap water.
Wear a chin strap if you suffer from dry mouth because you sleep with your mouth open at night. It will keep the mouth closed, preventing it from drying out. The device wraps around the whole head but is light and comfortable to wear.
What Dental Treatments Can Remove White Spots On the Teeth?
Your dentist may recommend the following dental treatments to get rid of white teeth patches:
CPP-ACP is short for casein phosphopeptides-amorphous calcium phosphate. It is a bioactive compound that is derived from the milk protein casein. According to a study published in Special Care Dentistry, CPP-ACP helps in the remineralisation of the tooth by increasing the levels of calcium and phosphate by more than 100%.
It can also make it more difficult for bacteria to stick to the teeth. Therefore, it can have an inhibitory effect on plaque formation. CPP-APP is available in different preparations, such as lozenges, paste, oral rinse and chewing gum. You should consult your dentist before using this.
Microabrasion is a dental procedure that can remove white spots on teeth by removing some of the enamel. For this, the dentist first applies an acid or abrasive agent and then gently rubs it on the surface of the tooth using a prophy cup.
This treatment can give your teeth a more even colour, which can minimise the appearance of the white stain on teeth. Usually, microabrasion is done in conjunction with teeth whitening.
Composite Resin Bonding
One way to hide white spots on teeth is to get composite bonding. In order to hide the white spot underneath, the dentist will shape a small amount of composite resin over it. After it’s hardened, the dentist will buff the surface of the teeth so that it’s even.
At-home strips, gels and trays can be used for getting rid of white spots on teeth, but they may take quite long to show any results. Moreover, if not done right, they can do more harm than good. You can consider getting professional, in-office teeth whitening instead. In this, the dentist will first apply a protective gel to the gums and then bleach the teeth using a laser. The results are immediate.
Keep in mind that this treatment may not be suitable for those whose problem is excessive fluoride, as bleaching can worsen the appearance of white spots.
Dental Veneers & Crowns
To hide white spots on teeth, you can also consider getting cosmetic dental treatments like veneers and crowns. Veneers are thin shells that cover the front surface of the teeth, while crowns surround them whole. Crowns may be more suitable if you have severe staining.
How To Prevent White Spots On Teeth?
It is possible to prevent white spots teeth if you do the following:
- Brush twice a day and floss on a daily basis
- Drink ample water
- Eat less surgery and acidic foods
- Chew xylitol gum (lozenge if you have braces)
- Eat less surgery and acidic foods
- Consult your obstetrician before taking any medications during pregnancy
White spots on teeth can develop due to various reasons in both children and adults. While they can cause cosmetic problems, they’re also indicative of an underlying (oral) health problem. If you have them, you need to get in touch with a dental professional to get an accurate diagnosis. Only after that should you proceed with treatment.