teeth whitening

Different Types Of White Spots on Teeth and What They Mean

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Have you recently noticed white patches on your teeth? Don’t panic, they might be nothing to worry about, and they are usually simple to treat.

What Are White Spots on Teeth?

White spots on your teeth can be an early sign of decay, although in some cases it is a purely cosmetic discoloration with no implications for your health or oral hygiene. In many cases, they can be prevented or treated to remove them and prevent further discoloration.

What Causes White Spots on Teeth?

White spots on your teeth can be caused in adulthood, or as a child, depending on the reason. Some causes of white stains on teeth can be harmful if left unchecked, while others are benign:

The Cause of White Spots Teeth in Adults

White marks on teeth in adults are most commonly the result of the way your teeth developed as a child. Overconsumption and underconsumption of certain vitamins and minerals can affect the development of adult teeth when they are still growing. Genetics also play a factor in how susceptible your teeth are to developing white spots.

White patches on teeth that appear after you have reached adulthood are most likely an early sign of tooth decay. They can be addressed by improving your oral hygiene and can be covered by a resin to protect the tooth and limit further decay or the development of cavities.

The Causes of White Spot Teeth in Children

White patches on teeth in children are important to address, as white spots on baby teeth can be a sign of problems that may affect the development of their adult teeth.

One of the most common causes of white spots on teeth in children is swallowing toothpaste, as its high fluoride content can affect the growth of teeth, especially children’s teeth. This is because their adult teeth are still being developed, and too much fluoride in their system will affect how their teeth grow. Although mild cases of this are effectively harmless, more severe cases can weaken and thin the enamel layer on their adult teeth because of this.

Bacterial plaque is also a common cause of white teeth spots in children, often as a result of not brushing frequently enough, or not knowing how to brush their teeth correctly. It can also be the result of wearing braces, as wearing braces can make it difficult for your child to brush every part of their teeth effectively. While discoloration caused by plaque on baby teeth will not affect a child’s adult teeth, it can be a sign of poor oral hygiene habits that will affect their adult teeth if they are not improved.

Children can also develop white spots on teeth because of vitamin deficiencies in their diet, or vitamin deficiencies in their mother’s diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

Some people naturally have thinner enamel on their teeth which can lead to white spots on teeth. If you have always had white patches on your teeth that are not caused by other reasons, your children might inherit this susceptibility too. Eating too many sugary or acidic foods can also thin your child’s tooth enamel.

Different Types of White Spots on Teeth

  • Fluorosis

White patches on teeth are commonly caused by fluorosis, a condition resulting from ingesting too much fluoride. Swallowing toothpaste, drinking heavily fluoridated water, or taking fluoride supplements, are all common causes of fluorosis.

  • Enamel Hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a tooth defect involving a thinner layer of enamel on the teeth than usual. In adults, it can be the result of vitamin deficiencies or physical damage to the teeth, and genetics also play a factor.

Sugar and acidic foods and drinks can also cause thin tooth enamel by dissolving the outer layer of your tooth enamel over time, as well as providing fuel for bacterial plaque to grow. This can be exacerbated by poor oral hygiene, as sugars and acids will do more damage the longer they are left on your teeth.

  • Demineralization

The accumulation of bacterial plaque on your teeth can decalcify your enamel over time. In these cases, the white spots are early signs of cavities that can be reversed if quickly addressed. Demineralization is usually the result of poor oral hygiene and is common for people who wear braces, as they can make cleaning your teeth more difficult.

  • Low Calcium Diet

Calcium is a vital mineral for the growth of healthy teeth. Increasing your intake of calcium can prevent or even reverse the development of white spots on teeth.

How Can I Get Rid Of White Spots On Teeth?

The best way to deal with white patches on teeth is to prevent them with good oral hygiene and to see a dentist at the first sign of white marks so they can advise you on the type of white spots you have and how to treat them. 

Treatments may include:

  • Topical fluoride may be prescribed if white spots are caused by a fluoride deficiency.
  • Micro-abrasion removes a layer of enamel from your teeth, which can remove some discolorations and stains.
  • Dentists can provide tooth whitening treatments to give your teeth a more uniform white color. Other tooth whitening products are available without a prescription, such as toothpaste, gels, and strips. These can take longer to work than dental bleaching treatments.
  • Veneers attach to the front of your teeth to hide the discoloration. They can be made to look very natural, although cheap or badly applied veneers can be easy to spot.

Conclusion

White spots on teeth can be caused by various factors in both childhood and adulthood. If you notice white spots on your teeth or your child’s teeth, talk to your dentist about it as there is plenty you can do about it. More importantly, the problem could get worse if you don’t address it on time.