You have white spots on your teeth and want to know what causes this and whether something can be done about it? I help you answer those questions.
White spots on the teeth
White spots on your teeth are perceived by many people as aesthetically disturbing. They often disfigure the otherwise healthy teeth. Certainly when they are present on the front teeth, which become visible with every smile. White spotted teeth can occur in both adults and children. The spots are usually visible on the underside of the front teeth and canines. They occur on both the upper and lower teeth. The spots have a different color than the rest of the tooth and are therefore clearly visible. They can have a yellow-brown or white color. The spots are more visible in one person than in another. The tooth itself is often healthy, if properly brushed, without further pain (complaints).
Causes of white spots on teeth
White spots on teeth can indicate various problems. The most common cause is a developmental disorder due to, for example, fluoride, medication, trauma (falling / bumping into something) or a hereditary cause. In many cases, this concerns damage that occurred during the period in which the teeth are formed. Other causes can be cavities or wearing braces.
In short, the spots on your teeth arise because the tooth enamel has become more porous at that location. Because the enamel on that spot of your tooth has become more porous, more light is reflected than the rest of the tooth. This makes a white spot visible. The photo on the right shows the reflection of healthy tooth enamel and more porous enamel. Later the spots can become browner in color. Due to (natural) wear and tear of the glaze, the spots become more on the surface. They then reflect more light. White spotted teeth can also become more noticeable due to colorants (tea, coffee, red wine, etc.). Even with a dry mouth or cold, the spots are (temporarily) more noticeable.
How do you get rid of white spots on your teeth?
Spots no longer disappear from themselves. The white spots can be removed, but that is not necessary if the tooth is healthy. In general, these white spots do not cause any problems. However, I understand that there are also cosmetic reasons for having the spots removed. There are various options for this. In many cases this is only possible when you are an adult. The dentist can remove the spots by:
- Bleaching the teeth (note: don’t do this yourself with spots!) And / or;
- Apply a hard resin layer to the tooth that connects with enamel (called bonding).
In addition, the dentist can apply facings. These are porcelain or composite shields made on the tooth. If your teeth are still healthy, the dentist would prefer not to. Your teeth must be ground to a small pointed tooth to be able to place the facing. If they are healthy teeth, most dentists rightly don’t think that’s a good idea. It is a very radical treatment that cannot be reversed.
With healthy teeth, most dentists will first try to remove the spots using bleaching and a special substance / resin. By means of a synthetic resin, the porous spots in the glaze, which cause the white spots, are filled up, making them less noticeable or even disappearing completely.
Despite the benefits of fluoride, excessive exposure to the mineral as a baby or child can result in fluorosis. Fluorosis (fluorosis dentalis) is caused by a frequent too high concentration of fluoride during the period in which the teeth are formed. This causes damage to the tooth enamel with white spots or stripes on the teeth as a result. With an excess of fluorides, the fluoride concentration in the tooth under construction can become too high and the mineralization of the enamel is not promoted, but rather disturbed. A porosity is created under an intact superficial layer of enamel. The enamel on this spot looks whiter after the breakthrough of the tooth.
Prevent white spots in children
The risk of fluorosis is greatest during the construction of the tooth (the tooth nucleation). This takes place at the age of 0 to 6 years and only then the danger is real. More specifically, children between 15-30 months of age are most at risk. Children of that age cannot spit and rinse toothpaste properly. It is therefore important to brush their teeth with a toothpaste with a low concentration of fluoride (this is a maximum of 500 ppm). Once the tooth is formed and broken, new fluorosis spots can no longer arise.
Fluoride toothpaste remains necessary
Fluoride is essential for healthy teeth, provided it is used in the correct concentration. The fabric prevents cavities and can repair starting holes. It also has an antibacterial effect, making it beneficial for inflamed gums. For yourself you use an adult toothpaste with a fluoride content of 1300-1500 ppm.
It is especially important for children to use fluoride toothpaste because the teeth are still developing there. You don’t brush their teeth with an adult toothpaste, but with a special children’s toothpaste with a lower dose of fluoride. Elmex has toothpaste specially for toddlers (0 to 5 years) and for children between the ages of 5 and 12. After that age they can use adult toothpaste.
For brushing your teeth, put a maximum of half a pea of special children’s toothpaste on the brush of your son or daughter. Teach your child to spit out toothpaste after brushing. Rinsing is not necessary. Swallowing once by accident is also not a big problem. I want to emphasize that the special toothpastes for children have a safe concentration and are indispensable for good teeth.
Keep fluoride-containing products such as toothpaste and mouthwash out of the reach of children. Do not use additional fluoride tablets or drops when brushing with fluoride toothpaste. Always discuss the administration of supplements with your dentist.
Medical cause and medication
Incidentally, it must be said that it is very likely that there is another cause for the spots than fluorosis. Certainly in Europe, where fluoride is only added in toothpaste, the chance is very small. In many cases it is more likely that there is a medical cause behind it:
- Everyone knows a child who fell on his mouth while playing at school pain. Trauma (such as falls or bumps) at an early age causes incomplete enamel formation and / or extra production of the dental bone.
- For some people, the spotty discoloration of teeth is in the genes (genetically determined).
- Less known is that also viral infections or high fever can disrupt glaze formation.
- Complications during birth or respiratory diseases in childhood where an oxygen deficiency occurs can also manifest itself in enamel defects.
- Malnutrition (lack of certain foods) is another possible cause and can lead to problems with the formation of the enamel.
- And antibiotics and other medicines can also have an effect on the tooth enamel.
Cavities by poor brushing and sweetness
Cavities also start as spots. A starting hole (caries) often looks a bit dull. The glaze dissolves and becomes porous in this place under the influence of the acids. That does not necessarily mean that a hole has been created. Often the glaze can recover by itself. Only when dental plaque is not removed for a long period of time or when you continuously expose your teeth to sweets and acids, the tooth enamel cannot recover. It is getting weaker and weaker. Such a white spot will eventually become a hole if the teeth are poorly cared for.
In addition to good oral care, spots from descaling can be prevented by eating and drinking up to 7 times a day. This gives the teeth and saliva time to keep the enamel strong. After almost everything you drink or eat, the tooth enamel becomes temporarily softer and thinner. It is therefore extra susceptible to bacteria. Your saliva ensures that the enamel becomes strong again after about an hour.
Teeth discolored after braces?
During orthodontic treatment it is extra important to brush well because food scraps can remain behind the braces. Studies have shown that in 85 percent of the people who wear braces, white spots arise around the brackets due to the plaque that remains on the teeth. If the brushing is not done well enough, the enamel will descale there.
White spots on teeth after bleaching
If you already suffer from white spots on your teeth, even if they are only slightly visible, then be careful with whitening your teeth. Because the spots are more porous than the rest of the tooth, they take on more or less color. This makes them more visible.