There are many ways that teeth can become discolored. While everyone is familiar with the dreaded yellowing or brown spots on teeth, you might be surprised to notice spots on your teeth that are whiter than the rest of the enamel. These white spots can be quite pronounced and cause just as much self-consciousness as yellowing enamel. The good news is that there are ways to treat and prevent white spots on teeth. Read on to find out more.
When Fluorosis Causes White Spots on Teeth
The most common reason we see white spots on teeth is fluorosis. Fluorosis is when too much fluoride is ingested while teeth are forming in the jawbone during childhood. Unfortunately, once fluorosis is evident on permanent teeth, the damage is already done. The American Dental Association suggests the following strategies to prevent fluorosis:
- Breastfeed your child if possible. Mixing formula with fluoridated water can contribute to fluorosis, so if you can, purchase ready-to-feed formula or use fluoride-free or low fluoride water to mix it.
- Use the right amount of toothpaste for children. That's a small dot the size of a grain of rice for children under 3 and a pea-sized amount for children over 3.
- Supervise children while they brush. Make sure they spit out excess toothpaste instead of swallowing it.
- No fluoride mouth rinse under the age of 6, unless your dentist tells you otherwise.
- Check your water. If you have a private well, get its fluoride levels tested once a year.
Other Causes of White Spots on Teeth
Fluorosis is one of the most common reasons that teeth may have white spots, but the whitening seen with fluorosis is usually fairly mild. More pronounced white spots may be caused by the following:
- A diet too high in acid. If you're partial to citrus fruits, tomatoes, and other acidic foods, you should be aware that the acid in these foods can erode your tooth enamel. Acid reflux, too, can cause white spots on teeth.
- A diet too high in sugar. Sugar causes plaque on teeth; plaque erodes enamel.
- Poor oral hygiene. Accumulation of plaque can cause demineralization, which is why it's important to brush and floss twice a day. It's especially important to be diligent about oral hygiene when you have braces.
- Mouth breathing. White spots can appear when teeth become dehydrated. If you sleep with your mouth open, you may notice white spots on your teeth in the morning. This discoloration is temporary.
Treatments for White Spots on Teeth
When white spots are barely noticeable, as is often the case with fluorosis, you may opt not to treat them. If white spots are pronounced enough to make you feel self-conscious about your smile, we offer the following treatments: