Everybody wants to have pearly whites—but what if one day suddenly you get white spots on your teeth? These are irregular opaque patches. They are aesthetically troublesome and may also be a cause for concern.
Childhood white spots
You may have these spots since childhood and they are as a result of fluorosis. This is an excess mineralization that comes due to drinking water with excess levels of fluoride as a child. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that this is found in adults who grew up consuming well water with more than 2 milligrams of fluoride per liter.
Fluorosis is found to happen before having permanent teeth. This means that if have lost the baby teeth and you drink water with high levels of fluoride, no fluorosis that will occur.
Adulthood white spots
According to Lisa Simon a dentist at Harvard University, white spots on adults’ teeth is as a result of decalcification. This is a plaque buildup of calcium.
“White spots can be the first way a cavity appears,” Lisa Simon says. “It could be where the tooth is weaker, so you might see them toward the bottom of your tooth where your gums are, or notice them with new sensitivity when drinking sugary beverages.”
On a more technical perspective, the white spots lesions are irregularities of color and are caused by enamel demineralization. This means that when the teeth are exposed to sugar or plaque, the content of the mineral that keeps your teeth strong changes.
Does whitening cause white spots?
There is a misconception that tooth whitening can make the white spots to show up. Simon says that is not always true.
The way [whitening products work] is that if you put it on one part of your tooth, it then enters tubules through the tooth and distributes itself,” she explains. She notes that delivery is the same through both the professional whitening products and drugstore white strips. Therefore, a patchy result is more likely.
Whitening procedures, at-home or professional are designed to “blend the changes in the opacity,” says Vaderhobli. In addition, bleaching can be recommended as a way of fading white spots.
When to see a doctor?
As the dentist will be checking for the warning signs of white spots, every time you will be heading in for an appointment. However, if you experience increased sensitivity or pain, it is time you consult your dentist.
If you are not sure whether the white spots are as a result of decalcification or fluorosis, you can be checked if the lesions are at the same height in all the other teeth. If that is the case and they are at the base of the teeth, it is more likely that they have been there all along.
What do you need to do?
The good news is that you don’t have to see a dentist. The white spots can be brushed away by maintaining your teeth regularly and avoiding much sugar.