[caption id="attachment_850" align="aligncenter" width="500"] When is it time to drop everything and get help?[/caption] Tooth pain can be a real...well...pain. But sometimes it’s hard to know whether your discomfort is...
Quit hiding your smile and tackle white spots at their source
A white smile is awesome – white spots on your teeth, not so much.
If you’ve noticed blotchy white patches on your front teeth, you’re desperate to get your smile back to a consistent shade. But before you rush into whitening, it’s important that you take the cause of the white spots into consideration. We’ve put together some information to help you learn more about the potential cause below – and we urge you to follow up by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Barton. Depending on the source of your white spots, professional treatment could be your best bet for getting a confident smile again.
Common Causes of White Spots on Enamel
One of the easiest ways to determine the cause of your white spots is considering how long you’ve had them. If you’ve had white spots on your teeth since your permanent teeth first emerged, the issue took place during tooth development. If your white spots are more recent, the problem is likely enamel decalcification.
The most common causes of white spots include:
- Some kind of disruption during tooth development – Known as enamel hypoplasia, this occurs when there is some kind of problem while the tooth was developing. This can range from a nutritional deficiency, to an illness that led to a high fever, to medication side effects. Premature birth and prenatal smoking can also lead to abnormalities related to tooth shade. Areas of teeth with enamel hypoplasia may be less mineralized and at a higher risk of developing cavities. With this condition, enamel has spots that appear milky white, brownish or yellowed.
- Overexposure to fluoride during tooth development – Fluorosis is the exposure to large amounts of fluoride while teeth are forming. This may be due to too much fluoridated water, taking too many fluoride supplements, or swallowing fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is beneficial to teeth in the appropriate amounts, but too much causes enamel to become discolored. Fluorosis may cause chalky white, yellow or brown patches on enamel.
- The onset of tooth decay – As you eat and drink and go about your day, harmful oral bacteria attempts to form a layer of plaque, a sticky film that clings to teeth. Plaque can be removed with diligent brushing, but subpar oral hygiene allows it to remain in place. When the plaque begins to demineralize tooth enamel, white patches can form. This is common for patients who have braces because it can be difficult to clean adequately around brackets and wires.
Possible Treatments for Your White Spots
Like we mentioned earlier, the cause of your white spots dictates which treatments will be most successful. Talk to Dr. Barton about what makes the most sense for your smile and your personal needs.
- Microabrasion – During this procedure, your dentist carefully removes a thin layer of superficial enamel. This removes the white patches while leaving the uniformly-colored enamel intact. Microabrasion may be combined with whitening to provide the best possible results.
- Teeth whitening – Bleaching your teeth can help improve white spots and create an all-over white shade for your smile. It’s important that you consult with your dentist before trying whitening for existing blotches, as the whitening may not work on those patches.
- Composite bonding – Bonding will cover up blotches and help protect enamel. This procedure can be completed in a single appointment, so it’s simpler and lower-cost than options like crowns or veneers.
- Veneers – Like bonding, porcelain veneers cover up discoloration on the surface of your enamel. They are longer-lasting than bonding, and typically more natural-looking. They will also resist future staining.
How to Help Prevent White Spots from Forming (On Your Teeth – Or Your Child’s)
For Your Own Teeth
Brush and floss twice daily to remove plaque from your teeth before it causes white spots. This is especially important if you wear braces or alternative orthodontics like Invisalign (plaque can get trapped between the aligners and teeth and expose teeth to acids).
For Your Child’s Teeth
If you’re pregnant, talk to your dentist about recommended fluoride intake, as well as existing medications that could affect tooth development. You should also do your best to quit smoking for the duration of your pregnancy.
Children under six can also develop these spots through excessive fluoride exposure. Make sure they use pea-sized amounts of toothpaste and do not swallow. Check on fluoride levels in local tap water and discuss a healthy fluoride intake with your dentist.
If your child has braces, make sure they are able to brush and floss correctly and remove plaque from around their brackets. Your orthodontist will provide floss threaders and special brushes if asked – get all the necessary tools to help your child succeed. A remineralizing toothpaste may also be helpful.
Don’t count white spots as the end for your smile. If you’re looking for help getting comfortable showing your teeth, contact our office to learn more about your options. We’ll find one that fits your budget and resolves any aesthetic concerns.