White Spots on Teeth:
Why Do You Have Them? What Causes Them? What Do They Mean? How to Get Rid of Them! 

White spots on teethSpotty teeth are not attractive

What causes white spots on teeth?

Are these white spots, marks, stains, patches, blotches, flecks, deposits, or dots on teeth a cosmetic or health issue?

On a popular online health forum, one anxious lady writes:

“I have two white stains on one of my front teeth and one on the other front tooth. What can I do to get rid of them? They seem to get worse, or brighter, when I brush. Any advice? Please, nothing outrageous!”

It’s not surprising this woman is concerned. If she’s like most women, she smiles about 62 times a day (far more than the average man who musters a meager 8 smiles a day).

So, naturally, she’s probably quite conscious about what people see when she smiles.

White spots, especially on front teeth, are quite common.

You may know someone who has them, or you may even have them on your own teeth.

What do white spots on teeth mean, and is it serious?

White spots on teeth are ordinarily a loss of mineral content on the surface of the teeth (the enamel). 

Dentists refer to this loss as hypocalcification, and they call the white spots that result from this loss hypoplasia.

Besides being a cosmetic concern for many people, this problem can actually result in the deterioration of teeth.

In fact, your dentist may tell you that the first evidence of tooth decay is a white spot lesion... meaning your tooth's enamel will have an opaque color in the spot where the cavity is starting to form.

Why do I have white spots on my teeth?

Since there are several different causes for these white spots., It’s best to have your dentist examine your teeth when you first notice them appearing so he or she can try to determine why you are developing them. Here are some of the major causes of white spots on teeth:

  • Dry mouth. If you have a dry mouth and not enough saliva to keep your mouth's pH level near neutral, acid-producing bacteria will thrive and attack your teeth.

    Certain prescription drugs, medical conditions, tobacco usage, and breathing through your mouth when sleeping can cause dry mouth.

    Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, suck on xylitol mints, or use a mouth rinse specially formulated for dry mouth.

Biotene Dry Mouth Rinse

  • Acidic foods and drinks. White spots can be caused by consuming too much acidic food or drink. For instance, if you drink a lot of sports drinks, vitamin water, carbonated soda, lemonade, or apple cider vinegar, their high acidic content can rapidly eat away at your teeth’s enamel and natural minerals. Eating sour candies and foods made with lemon or vinegar can also cause these spots as well.

  • Acid reflux. If you suffer from acid reflux (GERD), your mouth will experience higher levels of acidity than normal. This high acidity can damage your teeth, resulting in white spots.

Oral B Electric Toothbrushes Clean Teeth and Plaque

  • Plaque buildup from poor oral hygiene. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria and debris that forms on your teeth after eating carbohydrates (sugars and starches).

    The bacteria feeds on sugars in your mouth and produces acidic waste that dissolves your enamel, causes white decalcification, and cavities.

    We've been using Oral B electric toothbrushes at my home for years and they do a great job of removing plaque and keeping teeth fresh and clean.
  • Celiac disease.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease affecting up to 4% of the population. Celiac disease may cause white spots on teeth. Dr. Vickki Petersen writes, “According to a reference book, ‘up to 89%’ of people with celiac disease exhibit enamel problems.”  Besides causing the spots, celiac disease can also lead to undersized teeth, yellowing teeth, and teeth with groves or pitting on permanent teeth.

  • Excessive fluoride (fluorosis). Consuming excessive fluoride, especially during your teeth’s development, can cause  teeth to develop white spots. For instance, if you live in an area where drinking water contains a high fluoride level.

  • Whitening strips. It's been reported that even some brands of whitening strips can cause white spots, especially if they are left on for several months. They are highly acidic and over time can de-mineralize the tooth's enamel.

  • Genetic disorders. In some cases, the white spots on your teeth may be caused by genetic disorders.
  • Wearing braces. Braces won’t cause white spots on teeth, but poor dental hygiene while wearing them can.

    Plaque builds up on hard to reach places because braces make it hard to brush your teeth well.

    When the braces are removed, these places could have white spots as well as tooth decay.

    While I wear braces, no matter how well I brush and floss, when I finish my routine with the Waterpik, more food and debris always falls out - Yuk!

    A Waterpik is the only way to reach the hidden corners and clean them right.

Waterpik Helps Strengthen Gums, Clean Hard to Reach Places, such as Around Braces

My toddler has white spots on her baby teeth. She doesn’t consume anything acidic or wear braces. So what’s happening here?

Very young children often can have white spots on teeth, but for other reasons. They’re commonly referred to as toddler tooth discoloration and can be caused by illness, medications, exposure to certain minerals, ingesting too much fluoride, tooth decay, poor oral hygiene, and from eating certain foods. Visiting a dentist can tell you for sure.

Can I use an at-home tooth whitening system to remove the white spots from my teeth?

Many people attempt a do-it-yourself solution at home by using one of several tooth whitening systems. But this can be a mistake.

What usually happens is that the whitening product will not only whiten your teeth, but the white spot as well. And that will only make them more noticeable!

Your best bet is to see your dentist as soon as you can. In the meantime, consume less acidic food and drink and take care of your oral hygiene.

What can my dentist do to remove the white spots on my teeth?

What your dentist can do depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the white spots, their cause, the deterioration of your enamel, or the overall number of white spots on teeth.

It's better to visit a dentist when you first see signs of white spots and avoid more problems down the line.

If your situation is one that’s easily corrected, one of the most common treatments is called micro-abrasion.

Your dentist performs micro-abrasion by using a course diamond bevel to mechanically remove the spot before applying resin over the treated area.

In some cases, your dentist may have to follow this treatment with bleaching to improve the results.

On the other hand, if your white spots are large or if you have many white spots, micro-abrasion may not be the best option.

In that case, your dentist may refer you to a cosmetic dentist, who will either recommend capping the teeth, using a white filling, or applying a porcelain veneer.

Manhattan Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Michael Gulizio states that he uses a fairly new treatment in his practice involving micro air-abrasion or etchant on the tooth surface followed by a daily application of amorphous calcium phosphate every day for two weeks.

This treatment may result in either complete elimination of the white spots or only minor improvement. If the latter is the case, then he repeats the same treatment. He contends that by the end of the second treatment, the white spots should disappear.

If the white spots indicate you have a mineral deficiency or breakdown of your tooth’s enamel, your dentist may recommend a fluoride topical rinse, which may heal any soft white spots. This is different from the effects of fluoride that is consumed.

Your dentist or orthodontist can also recommend specially formulated tooth pastes or gels that help re-mineralize tooth enamel.

How to get rid of white spots on teeth and prevent them?

  • Brushing and flossing at least twice daily, especially after consuming sugary foods and beverages, and seeing your dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning;

  • Getting sufficient calcium in your diet;

  • Using a fluoride rinse;

  • Avoiding sugary and acidic foods and beverages;

  • Practicing exceptional oral hygiene if you’re wearing braces.

Sonicare Electric Toothbrushes Clean Teeth and Plaque

Also, consider using an Oral B or Sonicare electric toothbrush.

They work much better at reducing plaque than a manual toothbrush.

Your dentist or orthodontist may also recommend a WaterPik to help remove debris from the hidden crevices behind the braces and massage your gums.

At my home we use an electric toothbrush and a Waterpik. We've had excellent dental check ups for years.

Should you have a white spot on your tooth, get a dental check-up as soon as you can.

What if I don’t do anything to remove the white spots. What can happen?

If your white spots aren’t serious and are more of a cosmetic issue, your dentist may want to keep an eye on them during your regular visits.

If, on the other hand, they’re serious enough that the tooth enamel is highly susceptible to a cavity or might begin to break, you may need a crown. Or, if it’s merely a small area that’s decayed, a small white filling should do the trick. 

If the white spots are on your front teeth with no evident decay, then there’s the micro-abrasion/bleaching process. Of course, if your front tooth or teeth are more severely affected, you may require a white filling or a porcelain veneer.

In some cases, white spots are merely a cosmetic nuisance that mar our smiles and make us self-conscious. But in many instances they can also be a sign of something more serious. If you notice a white spot on your tooth, it’s best to see your dentist as soon as you can.

Other Helpful Articles:

How to Find a Dentist

Teeth Whitening Products

Laser Teeth Whitening Basics

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