White spots on teeth are a common cosmetic complaint that are as frustrating as tooth stains. This discoloration is very noticeable and can mar your smile, standing out far too much and making your teeth look less brilliant than they might actually be.
White spots generally indicate a loss of mineral content from your tooth enamel and are typically referred to as demineralization or hypocalcification, which means your enamel is normal but the quality of the enamel is poor. The optical effect that creates these chalky-looking white spot lesions are caused by mineral loss under the surface of the tooth’s enamel. In the simplest terms, when acids and bacteria are left on the teeth without proper cleaning to remove them, they will dissolve the calcium and other minerals in your enamel and leave the spots behind.
Our mouths conduct a natural remineralization process, but when the enamel is damaged, poorly cleaned, or other factors are in play, then the white discoloration that’s associated with demineralization will appear. Your dentist will examine the spots closely and probe the surface to test color, hardness, translucency, and opacity.
White spots and minor tooth discoloration can develop on teeth for a variety of reasons, some more common than others:
A major dependence on highly acidic foods (like carbonated sodas, lemonade, vinegar, etc.), overuse of teeth whitening strips, celiac disease, and, of course, poor oral hygiene are also potential contributors to white spots.
Knowing the source of the white spots on your teeth of course provides important information to help you understand how to prevent these aesthetically unappealing build-ups from occurring. But, not surprisingly, the best thing you can do to keep your teeth free of white spots is to maintain impeccable oral hygiene.
Your mouth is busy all the time, but your saliva can only do so much to ward off the build-up of bacteria and plaque. While braces certainly make it more challenging to keep your teeth clean, that’s no excuse to slack off of on oral hygiene. There are special tools available to help braces-wearers get into the crevices and crannies to eliminate any food particles that get caught and left behind. And, truly, it doesn’t matter if you wear braces or not – cleaning your teeth carefully and deliberately every day is necessary to help ward off white spots, as well as cavities, gum disease, and other unsavory oral health complications.
Some people who are especially susceptible to white spots use a handheld water flosser to flush material from between their teeth and beneath the gums. But keeping your teeth healthy and your enamel immaculate begins with having a good diet. What you eat will impact how many acids and sugars build up in your mouth and around your teeth. Snacking constantly also plays a role, as does depending on sugary or dark drinks to get you through a day (hello coffee drinkers, energy drink consumers, and soda sippers).
Drink plenty of water, chew sugar-free gum with xylitol, brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss once day. Your own behavior is the biggest weapon against developing white spots on your teeth.
When white spots have settled in for the long haul on your enamel and no amount of brushing or cleaning is making a difference, it’s time to treat the problem.
MI Paste – a white calcium phosphate cream that is made from dairy proteins – is used as a non-surgical procedure to diminish the appearance of white spots on teeth. Before the paste is applied, teeth will be acid-etched and polished so the surface of the enamel is prepared to receive the treatment. Maintaining a healthy smile means making sure that there is enough calcium and phosphate to go around. MI Paste is a unique topical tooth crème that can be applied daily.
In some situations, teeth whitening can be a solution for white spots on teeth. But in the most extreme cases, where the white spots aren’t going anywhere, porcelain veneers are the wisest option. Only your dentist can tell you for sure. Contact Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez or Dr. Sharon Schmeiser in Miami, Florida, to schedule your consultation and determine the best method for restoring your teeth to one natural color.