White spots that formed on teeth before they grew in usually indicate regions of the tooth that grew without sufficient calcium. Certain medications have been known to create spotting on teeth as well, but this is usually in a combination of white, brown, and yellow spotting as opposed to straight white spots. Other white spotting can develop from poor oral hygiene habits, especially during orthodontic treatment, or from worn enamel, which is of concern to dentists because it leaves teeth vulnerable to decay.
Most dentists feel that white spots on teeth come from a loss of minerals in that particular spot, usually the loss of enamel. Enamel can erode from excessive acid exposure, such as from diet, eating disorders, an acid-reflux or GERD. Over time, the acid wears down the enamel protecting teeth, revealing discoloration including white spotting, and possibly an increase in tooth decay. Regular dental office visits will result in the early discovery of this type of mineral loss. [pullquote]Most dentists feel that white spots on teeth come from a loss of minerals in that particular spot, usually the loss of enamel.[/pullquote]
During orthodontic treatment, patients with poor brushing and flossing habits are often left with white spots on their teeth, located in hard-to-reach spots from when braces were on. This type of decalcification or demineralization is generally permanent. The best way to prevent it is with diligent brushing and oral hygiene habits all throughout the entire orthodontic treatment process. Although discoloration after wearing braces is most common with younger patients, it is found on orthodontic patients of all ages.
Once the demineralization appears, whitening the teeth at home is usually insufficient and may make the spots more noticeable. Professional bleaching, however, can reduce the difference in color between natural teeth and the white spots that developed, leaving patients happier with their smiles. Special concentrated fluoride treatments are also used with some patients with moderate success at reducing the stark difference in color between the regular tooth and the white spots.
Once the demineralization has caused noticeable spots on teeth, the process is almost always irreversible. The visible effects can be reduced with some treatments, depending on the cause of the white spots, the patient, and any coexisting symptoms. For more information and learn which treatment options are possible for a specific case, contact our skilled dental team at Bliss Dental today!