Have you ever inspected your teeth in the mirror and noticed some white spots or discoloration? You might have felt alarmed, confused, or even self-conscious – but don’t worry, it's quite common to notice random white spots on teeth.
There are many reasons for the appearance of white spots. You might notice white spots on teeth after teeth whitening procedure, but bleaching agents are not the only cause. In fact, the most common cause of white spots on teeth is enamel hypoplasia. This condition can be caused by poor oral hygiene, fluoride exposure, and even certain medications.
Are you concerned about white spots on your teeth? Then you’re in the right place. In this article, we will cover the causes and treatments of white spots on teeth. We will also provide some tips for preventing white spots from forming in the first place.
Possible Reasons For White Spots On Teeth
The white spots we are referring to in this article look like small splodges of white, usually a couple of shades lighter than the natural color of your teeth.
These spots typically occur on the bottom half of the tooth; however, they can also appear on the top half, depending on the cause.
The most common cause of white spots on teeth is enamel hypoplasia. The National Library of Medicine estimates that 1 in 14,000 Americans are affected by this condition. Enamel hypoplasia occurs when the enamel on your teeth fails to form properly due to a genetic predisposition or environmental factors like poor oral health and high levels of fluoride in drinking water.
Enamel hypoplasia generally presents as discoloration or rough, pitted surfaces, and can even affect the overall strength and durability of the tooth. But what causes this condition in the first place?
A variety of factors can contribute to EH, according to scientific reports. Trauma to the teeth and jaws, infections during pregnancy or infancy, poor nutrition, and even exposure to toxic chemicals can all play a role in the development of this condition. While it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause in any given case, it's worth noting that genetic factors also play a role.
So, what can be done to treat EH? In many cases, dentists will use tooth-colored materials like bonding or crowns to protect the affected teeth. This can help to minimize further wear and sensitivity, while also improving the appearance of the affected teeth.
Have you ever heard of skeletal demineralization, in which the bones become weakened and brittle as the integral minerals break down? The same thing can happen to your teeth, and it often springs up without much warning.
The human mouth is filled with millions and millions of bacteria – some helpful, some harmful. Too much of the wrong bacteria can cause your tooth enamel to become compromised. A common bacteria, Streptococcus Mutans, feeds off of the sugar residue left behind in your mouth. As this bacteria feeds, it produces acid, which then weakens the tooth enamel and causes white spots to form.
Dental fluorosis is a condition that affects the appearance of tooth enamel, and it's caused by consuming too much fluoride during the years when teeth are developing. For most kids in the U.S., it's not a big deal – it might cause some white spots on the teeth that are barely noticeable and don't affect how the teeth function. But in some cases, it can cause more extensive changes to the enamel, and even create pits in the teeth.
Note that only kids aged 8 years and younger are at risk for developing dental fluorosis – so if you notice white spots on kids’ teeth, this may be the cause. The severity of the condition depends on how much fluoride they consume, for how long, and when they consume it. The good news is that severe cases of dental fluorosis are very rare, and occur mostly in communities where the fluoride levels in the water are extremely high.
It's also worth noting that as more sources of fluoride have become available – like fluoride toothpaste and water with fluoride – the occurrence of dental fluorosis has increased. But for the most part, it's still a mild condition that's not a big deal.
The most noticeable changes are scattered white flecks or occasional white spots on the teeth. But in rare cases, the changes can be more extensive, causing larger white spots and even rough, pitted surfaces on the teeth.
Vitamin Deficiency (Rachitic Tooth)
Rachitic tooth may not sound like a familiar condition, but it can often be traced back to vitamin deficiencies in the body – and the result is a serious issue that affects the mineralization of your teeth. Your tooth enamel, dentin, and cementum do not form properly, leading to a defective dentition. But what causes this to happen?
This condition follows a similar process to the skeletal disease associated with vitamin D deficiency. Recent research has also identified new factors that play a role in this condition, including the regulation of vitamin D, phosphate, and calcium. A loss of activity in a specific enzyme called tissue nonspecific alkaline phosphatase can also contribute to the development of rachitic tooth.
People suffering from vitamin deficiency tooth problems like rachitic tooth tend to have white spots on their teeth. This is because the lack of minerals in the enamel causes small areas to become discolored and weaker than normal, leading to a visible whitening effect.
Infections And Illnesses
A whole host of dental problems can spring from being sick or infected. Illness carries with it a range of symptoms and side effects, some of which can be damaging to your teeth.
Some illnesses cause people to vomit more than usual, and that can be very damaging to their teeth. The acid present in vomit is incredibly corrosive and can weaken the enamel of your teeth over time. In extreme cases, this could even lead to white spots on the surface of your teeth.
Bacterial infections can cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the mouth. While this would most commonly lead to gum disease, it can also affect the tooth enamel and cause white spots to appear.
Some medications have been linked with teeth discoloration, including antibiotics. One particular antibiotic drug, amoxicillin, has been associated with fluorosis development in children; studies have found that using this drug causes 'molar-incisor hypomineralization' which can lead to white spots on the teeth.
Trauma On Teeth
Blunt force trauma to the teeth is another common cause of white spots. This can occur when someone receives an injury to the face, or if a child falls and bangs their head. In some cases, this can cause tooth enamel to become weak and discolored; in more serious cases, it could even lead to white spots appearing on the surface of the teeth.
Poor Dental Hygiene
For people who do not properly clean and maintain their teeth, the mouth environment can quickly become a toxic place. Black stains on teeth are an indication of poor oral hygiene, as are black gums around teeth.
Acid attacks can occur after a buildup of bacteria from infrequent teeth brushing. The bacteria feed off of the food particles left in your mouth and produce acid, which can weaken the enamel of your teeth. Dental erosion, or white spots, will result from this over time.
Teeth Whitening Procedures
Many people undergo professional or over-the-counter teeth whitening procedures to achieve a brighter, whiter smile. A common misconception is that these treatments cause white spots on teeth, but this is not true. It does, however, make white spots more visible if the spots are pre-existing.
Thankfully, there are solutions to most – if not all – instances of white spots.
Let's take a look at some of the treatments and prevention methods available.
Best Ways To Get Rid Of White Spots On Teeth
Since white spots on teeth affect millions of people, we now have a number of solutions available to treat and prevent them.
Dental bonding is a procedure used to repair chipped, cracked, or discolored teeth. It involves the application of a tooth-colored resin material that is hardened with ultraviolet light. The material bonds directly to your teeth and can be shaped and polished to look like natural enamel.
The Bonding Process
Before applying anything to your teeth, the dentist must first choose a resin color that closely matches your natural tooth color. The surface of the tooth is then roughened slightly; this creates texture so that the bonding agent will adhere correctly. The resin is then applied and molded to the desired shape. A special curing light is used to harden the resin material, and any excess material will be removed.
Some teeth are more drastically discolored and pitted than others, and this makes them more difficult to treat. Porcelain veneers are thin shells of porcelain that are used to cover the front surfaces of teeth. They provide a natural-looking appearance and can be used to mask any discoloration or staining.
Getting veneers requires a few dental visits because the veneers themselves need to be shaped specifically for your teeth. The dentist will first take an impression of your teeth and send it to a dental laboratory. The lab will then create the veneers according to the measurements taken from your mouth.
Next, the dentist will prepare your teeth for the veneer placement. This involves lightly buffing away some of the enamel so that there is enough room for the veneer to fit properly in place without affecting your bite. An adhesive is then used to bond the veneer securely to your tooth.
Using gentle abrasives, such as phosphoric acid and pumice or hydrochloric acid and silica, dentists can wear away enough of the enamel to minimize white spots. This procedure is known as microabrasion. While it's a non-invasive procedure, it can require a local anesthetic to make it more comfortable for the patient.
How To Prevent White Spots On Teeth
Any of the above treatments is going to be effective for removing white spots on the teeth. Some will be more suited to your needs than others; for instance, white spots with texture or indents may require veneers, while simple discoloration may be treatable with bonding or microabrasion.
To prevent white spots on teeth in the first place, however, there are a few things you can do.
Good Oral Hygiene
The most obvious preventative for white spots on the teeth – or any dental problem – is good oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing will help to remove plaque before it can cause damage to the enamel, which in turn can lead to white spots on the teeth.
Good oral hygiene consists of:
- Brushing your teeth with the correct technique. Circular brushing is best, as it tends to catch more plaque and bacteria by hitting the particles from all angles. The gums, cheeks, and tongue should all be brushed – not just the teeth.
- Flossing at least once a day to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth. The gaps between your teeth are perfect for harboring bacteria and plaque; small pieces of food get lodged, leading to decay and bacteria buildup.
- Tongue scraping. The technique of scraping the tongue with a special tool or brush is popular as a method of detoxification. Tongues hold onto a lot of bacteria and food particles that don't always wash off with water and brushing, so scraping can help to get rid of more bacteria and prevent white spots on the teeth.
- Regular oral maintenance. Brushing and flossing will not be enough once every couple of days; ideally, you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss once per day. The more time bacteria are left on the teeth, the more damage they can cause.
- Dietary changes. How often do you consume sugary, processed foods and beverages? Cutting out these will help to reduce the number of bacteria and plaque buildup that can lead to white spots on the teeth.
By following good oral hygiene habits like those listed above, you should be able to reduce the risk of white spots on your teeth and maintain a healthy mouth.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Many people underestimate the power of regular dental cleaning and checkups to improve your smile. Some adults go for years at a time without a checkup, which means any dental issues that may have arisen in the meantime go unnoticed – and untreated.
Visiting your dentist every six months or so is a great way to catch small problems before they become big ones. They'll be able to pick up on issues like:
- Plaque buildup and pockets of bacteria. Dentists can give your mouth an in-depth cleaning as well as fill in any cavities that may have formed without your knowledge.
- Black lines on teeth. This is also known as dental calculus, in which plaque forms tartar that solidifies between the teeth.
- Early signs of white spots on the teeth. White spots can be hard to detect at home, but dentists are trained to spot the signs before they become more serious problems.
- General advice and tips for maintaining oral hygiene between checkups. Your dentist should be able to give you a few pointers when it comes to avoiding things like plaque buildup and white spots on the teeth.
Visiting your dentist regularly is a great way to prevent white spots from appearing on your teeth in the first place. Every time you leave the dentist, make sure to schedule a return visit. You can even use your flexible spending accounts (FSA) for dental cleaning, as well as dental insurance.
What Do White Spots On The Teeth After Whitening Mean?
Teeth whitening is a popular beautification procedure that many people undergo to achieve a brighter, whiter smile. There are a few methods for whitening; some people go to an in-office whitening procedure, some use over-the-counter teeth whitening kits, and others use at-home teeth whitening products like toothpaste or whitening strips. When it comes to at-home whitening vs in-office whitening vs natural teeth whitening, all can cause white spots – but not for the reason you might think.
Whitening And White Spots
Unfortunately, some people experience a less-than-desirable result after whitening their teeth: white spots. While this can be alarming, it's not actually a direct result of the whitening process. White spots have more deeply-rooted causes than bleaching agents (as we've discussed in this article).
So why, then, do some people experience white spots on their teeth after whitening?
Contrast Between Whites
The chemical process that happens during teeth whitening lightens the shade of the teeth. Stains are lifted from the surface of teeth, which can make them appear brighter and whiter. The issue is that when the whitening process is complete, there may be a stark contrast between the newly-whitened enamel and pre-existing white spots on your teeth.
Now that you know everything there is to learn about white spots on teeth, here are a few frequently asked questions about this issue.
Do White Spots On Teeth Mean Decay?
No, white spots on teeth are not necessarily a sign of decay. While they may be indicative of tooth decay in some cases, there are several other causes for the presence of these spots.
In most cases, white spots are caused by enamel hypoplasia which is an area where the enamel has either been eroded or never fully developed. This can be due to genetics, certain medications taken during childhood, or too much fluoride exposure. White spots may also be caused by dehydration, acid erosion, and trauma to the teeth.
What Does Black Tar In Teeth Mean?
Some people struggle with black tartar on teeth or black dots on teeth. It can be unpleasant and uncomfortable to see lines of black between teeth, or to notice black triangles on your teeth; however, your dentist can assess the issues and find a way to clean the tar out. It is usually a result of poor oral hygiene.
Can White Spots On Teeth Go Away Without Interference?
White spots are unlikely to go away on their own once they arrive. The integrity of the tooth enamel is already compromised, so it's necessary to take corrective action to restore the teeth. Depending on the severity of the white spots, a dentist may recommend professional abrasion treatments or veneers in order to restore the natural color of your teeth.
Can I Get White Spots On My Gums From Brushing Too Hard?
Yes, it is possible to get a white spot on gums from brushing too hard. This can occur when the bristles of a toothbrush are too rough or if you use an incorrect technique while brushing. If you notice any persistent pain or white spots around your gum line, be sure to consult with a dentist as soon as possible in order to avoid permanent damage and ensure proper healing.
How To Get Rid Of White Spots On Teeth At Home?
It is not recommended that you attempt to get rid of white spots on your teeth at home. In order to properly treat the issue and restore the natural color of your teeth, you should visit the dentist and get one of a few treatments: veneers, bonding, or professional abrasion. They'll be able to properly assess the severity of the white spots and recommend the best course of action.
How To Get Rid Of White Spots On Teeth After Braces?
Many people end up with white spots on the front of each tooth after having braces on for a few years. The reason for this is simple – the braces-wearer did not keep their teeth clean enough, so the color of their enamel darkened everywhere except for under the braces brackets.
In this particular case, teeth whitening procedures can help. The white spots are not as deep-rooted as other types of stains, so they can be removed with a few bleaching sessions. Another option is professional abrasion treatments; your dentist will use special instruments to gently polish away the discoloration.
How To Get Rid Of White Spots On Teeth After Whitening?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for white spots to appear after a teeth whitening procedure. The main cause of this is that the teeth whitening procedure creates a stark contrast between the whitened teeth and the pre-existing spots. To get rid of the white spots, you can get micro-abrasion, veneers, or bonding.
How To Get Rid Of White Spots On Teeth Overnight?
There is no realistic way to get rid of white spots on your teeth overnight. Depending on the severity, you may need to visit your dentist and get a few treatments such as veneers, bonding, or professional abrasion. If you are looking to whiten your teeth without getting rid of spots, there are overnight treatments available depending on the severity of discoloration.
How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of White Spots On Teeth?
Every treatment option for white spots on teeth has a different timeline for results. For example, professional abrasion treatments can usually be completed within one visit and will have immediate results. Veneers and bonding may require multiple visits to take impressions or fit the veneers and may take up to a few weeks for results.
How Do You Get Rid Of White Spots On Your Teeth Naturally?
It isn't realistic to say that white spots on teeth can be removed naturally. The integrity of the enamel is already compromised and needs to be treated with professional care in order to restore it. That said, there are some natural remedies that may help prevent white spots from forming in the first place.
Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, celery, and carrots will help strengthen your tooth enamel; brushing your teeth directly after sugary or acidic foods will help reduce the number of bacteria and acid that can damage your teeth.
How Common Are White Spots On Teeth?
Approximately 1 in 14,000 Americans experience enamel hypoplasia, which is one of the most common causes of white spots on teeth. This condition is caused by a lack of minerals found in tooth enamel and can be hereditary or caused by an illness during childhood. White spots on teeth, in general, are very common, as they can be caused by a multitude of things, such as poor oral hygiene, eating sugary or acidic foods, and fluorosis.
What Toothpaste Gets Rid Of White Spots?
Teeth-whitening toothpastes are a type of toothpaste that are formulated to whiten and brighten the smile and get rid of yellow teeth. They are typically made with mild abrasives, such as baking soda or silica, which help to remove surface stains on the teeth. Some toothpastes also contain enzymes or chemicals that can help to break down and remove deep-set stains.
These toothpastes work by physically and chemically removing surface stains on the teeth. The mild abrasives in the toothpaste gently scrub away surface stains, while the enzymes or chemicals work to break down deep-set stains. It's important to note that teeth-whitening toothpastes are only able to remove surface stains and may not be as effective as other teeth whitening options such as professional teeth whitening or over-the-counter whitening strips.
In terms of removing white spots, teeth-whitening toothpastes may not be effective. White spots on the teeth are caused by a lack of mineralization in the enamel, and they cannot be removed by surface stain removal. In most cases, white spots require professional treatment such as fluoride application, or in some cases, resin infiltration or tooth bonding to mask these spots.
Can Dehydration Cause White Spots On Teeth?
Dehydration can potentially cause white spots on teeth, as when the body is dehydrated, it can lead to a decrease in saliva production. Saliva helps to neutralize the acid in the mouth and also helps to remineralize the teeth. If there is not enough saliva, the acid in the mouth can demineralize the enamel, causing white spots to form. Additionally, dehydration can cause dry mouth, which can lead to the build-up of bacteria that can cause tooth decay and enamel erosion.
Another cause of white spots on teeth is the habit of sleeping with your mouth open. When you sleep with your mouth open, the air in your room can dry out your mouth. This causes a decrease in saliva production, which can lead to a dry mouth and can also cause the formation of white spots on teeth. These white spots are usually temporary, but if not treated, they can become permanent.
Does Whitening Teeth Make White Spots Worse?
Whitening teeth is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that aims to remove surface stains and discoloration from the teeth, resulting in a brighter, more attractive smile. However, many people are concerned about teeth whitening safety and whether whitening teeth can make white spots worse.
White spots on teeth are caused by a lack of mineralization in the enamel, which can occur due to a variety of factors such as poor oral hygiene, consuming too much sugar or acidic foods and drinks, and certain medical conditions. It's important to note that teeth whitening products and procedures only work to remove surface stains and discoloration, they cannot change the underlying structure of the tooth. Often, the contrast between newly-whitened teeth and white spots can make the spots more visible.
What Foods Help White Spots On Teeth?
White spots on teeth can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor oral hygiene, consuming too much sugar or acidic foods and drinks, and certain medical conditions. While these spots can be unsightly, there are certain foods that can help to prevent or reduce their appearance.
One of the most effective ways to prevent white spots on teeth is to consume foods that are rich in calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are essential for the development and maintenance of strong, healthy teeth. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are great sources of calcium, while meats, fish, and eggs are rich in phosphorus. Additionally, leafy greens such as spinach and kale are also great sources of calcium and phosphorus, and can help to strengthen your teeth and prevent white spots from forming.
Another way to prevent white spots on teeth is to consume foods that are high in Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and is essential for healthy teeth. Foods such as fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms are excellent sources of Vitamin D.
Can Too Much Calcium Cause White Spots On Teeth?
In some cases, consuming too much calcium can cause white spots on teeth. This is called hyper calcification; a build-up of calcium in the enamel creates a white, chalky appearance.
No one likes to look in the mirror and see white spots on their teeth. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to prevent and treat white spots on teeth.
Preventative measures, like taking care of your oral hygiene, limiting sugar and acidic foods and drinks, and consuming foods that are rich in calcium and phosphorus can help to reduce the appearance of white spots.
If you already have white spots on your teeth, veneers, bonding, and microabrasion are all viable options. Brighter, whiter teeth can help to boost your confidence – so don’t be afraid to ask your dentist about ways to get rid of white spots!