If You’ve Got White Spots on Your Teeth, Here’s How Dentists Say You Can Nix Them

Amy Lawrenson
Photo credit: Ridofranz - Getty Images

From Women's Health

Yes, it's true our teeth can get white spots, not just our faces (what joy!). And much like the blemishes that appear on our skin, the spots on our teeth occur for a variety of reasons and there are few different ways to prevent and treat them.

What's interesting is that white spots can often occur in children, so instilling the correct brushing technique and using the right products as a child is key. While it may be too late for us adults, kids can benefit from parents in the know.

If you're an adult with white spots there are some easy ways to prevent them getting worse and different tactics to conceal or remove them entirely. WH called on four experts 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?

Thanki tells WH that, depending on the cause it can be called:

1/ Fluorosis: excessive intake of fluoride

2/ Hypoplasia: which only occurs during childhood when a person's teeth and enamel are still developing.

3/ 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 appearing?

'It is essential that you don’t use too much fluoride as a child. In fact, fluoride is the key ingredient to make sure people do not get too much or too little,' warns Eskander.

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.

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.'

'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.'

How can you hide or remove white spots from teeth?

'Tooth whitening will help to reduce the colour difference between yellowish teeth and white spots,' explains Chard. 'For bigger or more obvious white spots Icon White Spot treatment is recommended.

'This process also known as resin infiltration will make the white spots disappear by changing their optical properties. Similar to when you put water in crushed ice, it goes from opaque to transparent.

'Alternatively or as an adjunct, cosmetic bonding can be used to mask the white spot.'

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.

'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.'

Now you know all about white spots on teeth, find out whether natural teeth whitening does more damage than good...

You Might Also Like