Have you ever noticed white marks on your teeth and wonder, “where did these come from?” White spots on teeth are fairly common and can appear as a result of several factors. This article will provide a detailed overview of:
- reasons why white marks appear on your smile
- what can be done to reduce the signs of spots on your teeth
- how to prevent white spots from appearing at all.
Taking care of your smile for preventative health and cosmetic reasons is great, but once signs of damage or discoloration occur you can increase your self-care at home as well as reach out for professional help.
What Causes White Spots on Teeth
Often times, white spots develop on the teeth when a child is young, although that’s not always the case. Internal and external factors can contribute to this condition. While many white spots on teeth do not indicate physical damage has occurred other incidents of white marks on the teeth do suggest damage to the tooth’s enamel.
Poor Oral Hygiene
As we all know, brushing your teeth is vital to preventing cavities and maintaining a healthy smile. Improper brushing, lack of brushing, and not using the right amount of toothpaste could result in discoloration of the tooth and white spots on the teeth to appear. If you are an inadequate brusher, especially while wearing braces, white marks can appear on the teeth. Poor oral hygiene can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth that can eat away at the enamel causing white marks to appear on the surface of the tooth.
Dental fluorosis is a condition in which one consumes too much fluoride. Excess use of toothpaste and mouth rinses with high amounts of fluoride can damage the surface of the teeth resulting in white spots. Since the early 1900s fluoride has been added to tap water as a cavity prevention measure.
In addition, water containing fluoride marketed specifically for infants and children is available over-the-counter for purchase. Children are susceptible to overconsumption of fluoride since their small bodies have a lower tolerance for chemicals. Consult your physician or dentist prior to giving your child fluoridated water. While fluoride in the proper amount is still recommended for cavity prevention and maintaining healthy teeth and gums; you may be getting fluoride from a variety of sources, so use with caution.
Health and Nutrition
Acids in beverages and food can remain on the teeth and literally eat away at your enamel causing white marks to appear. Sugary foods and drinks such as soda can also strip away at the tooth’s enamel. Food with a high sugar content can cause bacteria to grow that can lead to the destruction of tooth enamel and white marks to develop.
Calcium, an essential mineral in the body’s development, is directly related to the proper growth of tooth enamel. Insufficient calcium levels can cause a variety of health issues including the appearance of white spots on your teeth. Calcium can be found in a variety of foods and supplements to help keep your smile spot free.
Illness and Medications
A high fever caused by bacterial or viral infections can be related to the development of enamel hypoplasia. When a child is sick and develops enamel hypoplasia, the enamel is hard but thin and can cause pits and white spots on teeth. As a result of a high fever, calcium and other minerals may be depleted from the tooth as a result. Maintaining proper hygiene, hydration, and nourishment through severe illness will aid the child in many ways and help prevent tooth damage.
Medications can also be linked to unwanted white marks on tooth enamel. Some antibiotics are known for this side effect and are not recommended or prescribed to children. A pregnant mother is also subject to passing this side effect on to her unborn child when using these specific medications. Be sure your doctor knows all your health circumstances, including pregnancy, before being prescribed any medications.
Smoking While Pregnant
The negative effects of smoking while pregnant are endless; both mother and child can suffer serious health problems. Damage to the teeth of an unborn child can begin in the earliest stages of pregnancy if the mother is smoking. White spots on the child’s teeth and weakened enamel can be one of many lifelong effects passed down from a mother who smokes during pregnancy.
How To Remove White Spots on Teeth
A trained professional will be able to identify the nature of white spots on your teeth and how to best treat them. In some cases, the white spots cannot actually be removed, but the enamel surrounding the white spots can be brightened.
Baking Soda and Peroxide
Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide is a classic home remedy for whitening teeth. Creating the right consistency of paste is key to effectively whitening without damaging the enamel surface. A two to one ratio of peroxide to baking soda is recommended. For example, combine two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with one tablespoon baking soda. Mix until they form a soupy paste. Gently brush onto the teeth and let sit for about one minute. Rinse mouth thoroughly and avoid food or drink for half an hour. Because a trace amount of enamel may be removed in the process, this method of whitening is only recommended no more than twice a month.
Teeth Whitening Solutions and Products
With daily use, over-the-counter whitening mouthwashes and toothpastes can be mildly effective in reducing the appearance of white spots on your teeth. An assortment of teeth whitening products can be purchased over-the-counter including some with unique ingredients such as charcoal. You may also want to look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval on products to ensure safety and quality have been tested and approved.
Specialty whitening toothpastes are available at a slightly higher cost but yield better results. Whitening strips are another popular teeth whitening solution that can help even out unwanted white marks on teeth. Many individuals are successful at reducing signs of white marks on teeth with regular over-the-counter or specialty products that they use at home. Sometimes seeking professional teeth whitening services, in addition to using these methods, gives you that brighter spot free smile you desire.
Microabrasion is a procedure used in cosmetic dentistry to remove a thin layer of the enamel. The outermost layer of the tooth’s enamel can be removed to eliminate or lessen the appearance of many surface stains and white marks on the teeth. The microabrasion process can involve mechanical and chemical methods.
The mechanical procedure gently scrubs and polishes the outer layer of enamel with pumice to remove white spots as well as yellow and brown discoloration on teeth. The chemical process of microabrasion utilizes hydrochloric acid to remove the surface enamel. While either process can be repeated for the desired effect, some individual’s white spots and stains are deeper than the outer coating of enamel. Additional cosmetic dentistry procedures can be used for more serious cases or to create a long lasting beautiful smile.
One cosmetic solution for unwanted white marks or other imperfections in the teeth includes dental veneers. The application of veneers involves a wafer-thin shell that is bonded to the front of the teeth. If you chose to get veneers, you can work with your dentist to determine the color, size, length, and overall shape of your new oral profile. Whether you have untreatable white spots or some other form of damage to your teeth, veneers can be a great option to get the exact smile you want.
If you are serious about permanently improving your smile, veneers might be the solution for you. Reading testimonials from real life people with veneers and a doing little further research about both types of dental veneers can guide you in the right direction. Consulting a dentist about veneers may be the next step in bringing the life you want back to your smile.
Preventing White Spots on Teeth
So while there are many solutions to restoring your teeth once white spots appear, what can you do to prevent them altogether?
- Prenatal Care
- Proper Nutrition
- Oral Hygiene
- Regular Visits to the Dentist
Studies have shown that the development of white spots on teeth can happen while in utero. Prenatal care is the first step for a healthy baby and child. Pregnant women need to be cautious when consuming medications that may cause damage to an unborn child’s teeth. Consult your physician and/or pharmacist when taking any medication when pregnant.
In addition, mothers-to-be need to consume plenty of calcium and other vitamins and minerals to ensure proper tooth and enamel growth in the fetus. Furthermore, if pregnant, avoid smoking, at all costs. Smoking can cause a multitude of health problems for the child to be, including improper growth and development of tooth enamel. Self-care during pregnancy can prevent the child from experiencing potentially damaged and spotted teeth.
White spots on teeth can form during early childhood. Proper nutrition can reduce the risk of white marks developing on the teeth from a young age. Eating nutrient-rich foods like spinach, which is high in calcium can promote the development of healthy enamel. Cheese and milk are also known as an excellent source of calcium for healthy teeth and bones. Yogurt contains calcium, protein, and the added benefit of probiotics. Probiotics, beneficial bacteria, can reduce bad bacteria that cause cavities.
Healthy crunchy snacks like carrots, celery, and apples, can act like nature’s toothbrush on your teeth. These food choices not only gentle scrape other foods and bacteria away from your teeth while you eat them they also stimulate the production of saliva. A natural increase of saliva reduces your risk of cavities that can lead to white marks on the teeth.
Candy can be damaging to teeth in a variety of ways. Soft sugary sticky candy and treats can remain on the teeth, get stuck in gaps between the teeth or in your molars. Hard candies can actually crack and damage the enamel. Avoid eating sugary foods, especially candy. And if you do enjoy a sweet snack you can brush or rinse your mouth out afterward to help keep a healthy smile.
Drinking water is always the best choice for a healthy body and smile. Reduce sugary sodas and juices that can allow sugar to remain on your teeth. Use caution when consuming excess amounts of coffee, wine, and other acidic beverages and foods. The acids can wear away at tooth enamel causing spotted or stained teeth.
Brushing your teeth, twice a day, as recommended by the ADA is a great way to keep your smile healthy and spot free. Flossing can also reduce acids and sugars from accumulating on teeth that can cause white marks to appear. Drinking or rinsing the mouth with water after eating or drinking sugary and/or acidic foods is also a preventative technique that is simple and free.
The daily use of over-the-counter products such as the whitening toothpastes and mouth rinse can be a proactive solution to reducing white spots from developing on your teeth. Regular visits to your dentists, every six months, for a professional cleaning and checkup is recommended for oral maintenance and preventative care.
Contact a Dental Professional
Inform your dentist of the various methods of teeth whitening that you use and how often you use them. Being honest with your healthcare professional can prevent unnecessary and potentially irreversible damage to your teeth. Your dentist can further help you identify the best way to reduce and remove white spots on your teeth or to cover them up altogether. Contact your local dentist for more information on professional whitening or veneer consultation.