It can be alarming at first when you begin to notice white spots on your teeth. While many people spend small fortunes to maintain a perfect pearly white smile from day to day, white spot discolorations can not only cause distress over cosmetic issues in many people, but it can also bring concern that it is a symptom of a health problem.
Hypomineralization – What is It?
These white spots are symptoms of a condition called by a variety of names, including:
They all come down to one thing: the loss of minerals in the enamel of your teeth. The key minerals that are lost leading to white spots on your teeth are calcium and phosphorous.
As alarming as it may appear when you first begin to notice these white spots that can affect primary and/or permanent teeth, it’s generally not a symptom of something sinister going on in your body. Instead, it can be an indication of tooth decay, which can also occur as a result of plaque buildup.
Causes of White Spots on Teeth
The condition itself may be caused by a few different things, including:
- eating diets that are high in sugar
- having orthodontic dental work (like braces),
- intaking highly acidic foods or drinks,
- having acid reflux, and
- having a DNA that makes you prone to white spots on teeth
– to name a few.
With so many potential causes, you can probably imagine the condition is quite common. Fortunately, with so many people being affected by this condition, there are a variety of treatment options available to help camouflage its effects.
One thing you should note is that teeth whitening strips, the type many people enlist to help hide the effects of hypomineralization, can actually cause white spots because some of them are highly acidic, removing the enamel from your teeth instead of protecting it.
In younger children, hypomineralization can occur as a result of illnesses and antibiotics as well. It is one of the reasons it is so critical to begin taking children to the dentist while young and create a lifelong habit of routine dental visits.
Fluorosis – What is It?
Another condition that can lead to enamel discolorations is known as fluorosis. This is more common in children and toddlers. With this condition, you may experience discolorations in a variety of colors, including:
- Chalky white
Yet again, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to fluorosis, including drinking excessively fluoridated water, but it can also be caused by supplements or toothpaste that has fluoride.
The problem with this particular condition isn’t exposure to small amounts of fluoride, which is essential for helping prevent tooth decay, but in being exposed to too much fluoride.
Treatments for White Spots on Your Teeth
There are a variety of treatment options available for you if you have white spots on your teeth though most are better suited for people correcting white spots on permanent teeth. They include the following:
- Bleach your teeth. Most dentists recommend in-office bleaching services or kits you can purchase from your dentist rather than over-the-counter bleaching treatments that may cause more harm to your teeth than good.
- Get porcelain veneers. A cosmetic service many dentists offer, porcelain veneers cover up the affected teeth, by applying a thin veneer to the surface of each affected tooth so that it matches the coloration of your other teeth.
- Have microabrasion done. Commonly used in less severe cases of tooth discoloration, this is often followed up with in-office dental bleaching services.
- Sleep with chin straps. Chin straps can help you keep your mouth closed while sleeping which may prevent dry mouth.
Of course, prevention is the best cure in all situations. Visit your dentist routinely. Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar and acidic content, include plenty of calcium in your diet, and skip the over-the-counter bleaching kits.
If you do find white spots on your teeth schedule an appointment with your dentist right away to check for the extent of tooth decay you may be experiencing and to learn more about which treatment options are best for you.