White spots on your teeth appeared? Much like the blemishes that emerge on your skin, these can show up for a number of reasons. The great news is that there are a variety of ways to treat them (more on that later).
But what you really need to know first is that white spots on teeth are preventative in the first place. They can often occur in children, so arming your little ones with the correct brushing technique and dental products is paramount. While it may be too late for us adults, kids can benefit from parents in the know.
If you're a grown-up that has white spots on your teeth, then there are some easy ways to stop them from becoming more prominent. WH called on six expert dentists to reveal all you need to know about white spots on your teeth.
What causes white spots to appear on teeth?
'A common cause is dental fluorosis. People usually get this when they are young if they consumed too much fluoride as a child; for example using/consuming too much toothpaste. It is usually a harmless condition that only tends to develop before the teeth break through the gums,' says dentist Dr Adarsh Thanki.
'Another common cause is enamel hypoplasia. This condition occurs when a person's teeth enamel does not form properly. Like fluorosis, hypoplasia only occurs during childhood when a person's teeth are still developing. However, it can increase the risk of tooth decay,' says dentist Dr Rhona Eskander.
'Other causes of white spots on the teeth include poor dental hygiene, especially when someone is wearing braces, or eating too many acidic or sugary foods. Dental trauma when the teeth are developing can also white spots,' adds Thanki.
Celebrity dentist Dr Richard Marques notes that, 'in adults, a build-up of plaque eating away at the tooth’s protective enamel is common, caused by lack of regular brushing/flossing.'
Do white spots on teeth have a particular medical name?
Depending on the cause it can be called:
Fluorosis: excessive intake of fluoride
Hypoplasia: which only occurs during childhood when a person's teeth and enamel are still developing.
Decalcification: essentially the loss of calcium, which can be a problem if this leads to decay. The demineralisation of tooth enamel takes place when bacterial plaque is allowed to accumulate on the teeth. This is usually due to inadequate brushing, it is frequently a problem for children and adults who wear braces. White areas of decalcification are permanent, and they do lead to decay if not kept clean. If it is mild fluorosis there is not need to worry.
Can it be caused by dietary deficiencies?
'Absolutely,' says Marques. 'Diets high in sugary and acidic foods will wear enamel away at a much faster rate than those with very little.
'This is due to harmful bacteria forming acidic plaque which breaks down the enamel, causing discolouration, and can ultimately lead to tooth decay and other more serious health issues. void sugar as much as possible, use a straw for fizzy drinks, and limit foods high in acid including citrus fruits.'
Are white spots on teeth anything to worry about?
'Not usually, but they can be more susceptible to decay and sensitivity as the enamel of the tooth is not formed correctly,' notes dentist Dr Simon Chard.
Marques adds that, 'if the colour of your teeth changes, you should always consult a dentist who will be able to conduct a thorough examination and advise the best course of action. Often this will be as simple as stepping up your brushing routine, but it could be a sign of an underlying issue that requires more advanced treatment – so it’s always best to check at the first sign of change.'
'Mild fluorosis due to excessive toothpaste consumption is nothing to worry about from a medical point of view,' Eskander tells WH, 'it may only bear aesthetic implications.'
Can you prevent white spots from appearing?
'Fluoride is the key ingredient to make sure people don't get cavities. It's essential to get the right amount as a child,' warns Eskander.
Chard explains that, 'anything with a correct fluoride level can help protect the white spots from forming if caused by poor oral hygiene or diet. Once the white spots have formed a fluoride containing toothpaste and mouthwash will help protect the white spots from sensitivity and decay.'
Thanki, Chard and Eskander have worked together to create PÄRLA Toothpaste Tabs, £6.95, which are sustainable—the tabs come in a glass jar and you can buy refills that are sold in compostable bags. You chew a tab and brush your teeth as normal.
'They ensure you get exactly the right amount of fluoride in a tablet form - not too much or too little,' says Thanki.
'The problem with another white spot cause – decalcification, is that it can leave teeth brittle,' says Eskander. 'The best way to manage decalcification is to maintain excellent dental hygiene standards by brushing and flossing teeth thoroughly and ensuring that affected teeth are kept clean and free from plaque.
'Decalcification can be counteracted by saliva as saliva acts to re-mineralise the tooth following the removal of plaque. If children are at severe risk, then dentists will paint on a fluoride varnish on teeth at high risk of developing decay to further help to protect those suffering from decalcification.'
Marques suggests using, 'remineralising toothpastes such as the Regenerate brand, these can help rebuild surface enamel, but always ask your dentist for the best treatment for you.'
Are white spots on teeth permanent?
'If white spots develop on the teeth, which can start to develop as early as young childhood and remain into early adulthood then yes, they are most likely permanent and will stay on the teeth for most of your adult life. However, there are a number of methods for removal so if you wish to have them removed or the or the colour of your teeth evened out, you can do so by visiting your dentist to discuss your options,' Sunny Sihra, Lead Dentist and owner of The Simply Teeth Clinic.
How can you hide or remove white spots from teeth?
1/ Teeth whitening
'Tooth whitening will help to reduce the colour difference between yellowish teeth and white spots,' explains Chard.
For advanced white spots, 'more invasive procedures do exist; composite veneers or porcelain which requires drilling of the teeth to remove the white parts,' says Thanki.
3 / Mirco-abrasion
'Micro-abrasion can also be considered, this procedure involves gently removing a thin layer of surface enamel, thereby improving the appearance of your teeth. You can also consider tooth whitening which can help balance the colour of your tooth enamel.'
4/ Icon Treatment
Dr Kamala Aydazada, dentist and founder of Kensington Cosmetic Dentist offers a treatment called Icon. 'It proved to be revolutionary for treatment of white spots without using a conventional "drill and fill" approach,' says Dr Aydazada.
'Depending on the severity of the problem, Icon helps to restore the natural tooth colour within 1-2 visits of no longer than an hour in total. The procedure involves several steps: cleaning and preparation of the tooth surface, application of the fluid product which is then absorbed into the tiny pores within the enamel, and curing with the dental light,' she adds.
How long does it take to get rid of white spots on teeth?
'This depends on the removal option you take. In most cases, if you are choosing any of the above methods, then it shouldn’t take too long to see a difference in your teeth.'
Bleaching may take a little longer as the teeth lift, as oppose to veneers which can be applied then and there at your appointment. It is dependent on you and how self-conscious you are of your teeth,' says Dr Sihra.
Now you know all about white spots on teeth, find out whether natural teeth whitening does more damage than good...
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