Depending on their cause, white spots on the teeth may go away on their own, need treatment, or persist for a lifetime.
- For example, if you have developed white teeth spots due to dehydration (from keeping your mouth open at night), they may disappear within hours.
- However, if the cause of white spots is demineralization or severely damaged enamel, even aggressive treatments may not make them go away.
What causes white spots on teeth?
Everyone wants pearly white teeth, but many factors affect their color and aesthetics.
Common causes of white spots on teeth include:
- Dental fluorosis
- Enamel hypoplasia
- Issues with diet
- Poor dental hygiene
- Marks left by braces
An adequate amount of fluoride is good for your teeth. However, in excess amounts, it can result in a condition called dental fluorosis, which results in discolored enamel (yellow or brown) with white spots.
This commonly occurs in children when they are exposed to excess fluoride compounds through fluoridated toothpaste, fluoride in the water, and, sometimes, fluoride supplements.
Some people develop thinner tooth enamel than what is normal, which is called enamel hypoplasia. The teeth look similar to dental fluorosis in this condition.
Enamel hypoplasia can be caused by one or a combination of factors that include:
- Nutritional deficiency (caused by conditions, such as celiac disease)
- Side effects of medications, such as antibiotics
- High fever
- Prenatal smoking
Plaque buildup can result from not brushing or flossing teeth properly, especially while fitted with braces. This is usually noticed when the braces are removed.
A diet high in sugary or acidic foods is more likely to damage your tooth enamel and lead to white spots on your teeth.
Sugar promotes the buildup of plaque, whereas acidic fruits (such as lemons and oranges) can erode the enamel. These can result in white teeth spots.
Sleeping with mouth open at night
Sleeping with your mouth open at night can dry out your mouth, including your teeth. This causes the surface of your enamel to dehydrate, which shows up as white spots. Once you get up, the saliva in your mouth rehydrates the enamel, causing the white spots to disappear.
7 ways to get rid of white spots on teeth
The treatment of white spots depends on their cause. If the cause is treatable, here are a few treatments that you can try.
- Evaluate your diet and modify it: If you are into eating a lot of acidic fruits or drinks, such as carbonated beverages, it is time to cut down on them. Replace soda with water and cut down on the acidic foods you eat daily.
- Keep a watch on your child’s fluoride intake: Keep a watch on your child’s fluoride intake by monitoring tap water and using a non-fluoride toothpaste until the age of two years old. Ensure the amount of toothpaste used by your child younger than three years old is only rice-sized, whereas a child aged older than three years can use a pea-sized amount.
- Teeth whitening treatments: You can first try an over-the-counter tooth whitening treatment at home or go to a dentist for in-whitening treatment, including bleaching either with or without laser whitening.
- Enamel microabrasion: Rather than removing the white spot, your dentist uses mild abrasion to remove a bit of the surrounding enamel, making the teeth appear a uniform color. This treatment is often paired with teeth whitening for best results.
- Composite resin: If you have very few, small, white spots, your dentist may use a material called composite resin to cover the spot.
- Veneers: Your doctor may suggest concealing the white spots with a porcelain veneer that contains a thin sheet that is bonded to the surface of your teeth. The veneers hide the discoloration and protect the teeth from further damage.
- Chin straps: Chin straps keep your mouth closed while you sleep and thus prevent your mouth from drying up and creating white spots on your teeth.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Khoroushi M, Kachuie M. Prevention and Treatment of White Spot Lesions in Orthodontic Patients. Contemp Clin Dent. 2017;8(1):11-19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28566845/
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