Help! I Have White Spots on My Teeth!
A beautiful smile has long been viewed as a sign of health and wellness, and those with terrific smiles tend to feel more self-confident. If you have white spots on your teeth, though, you might feel uncomfortable and reluctant to smile. Fortunately, these spots are both common and easy to treat. Here’s what you should know.
White spots on the teeth can have many causes. Most cases, though, are caused by one of the following:
Fluorosis: Large doses of fluoride that far exceed the recommended amount can discolor tooth enamel in children. Fluoride stains may be brown or yellow, but they are often a chalky-looking white.
Enamel Hypoplasia: Enamel hypoplasia, or deficient tooth enamel, can be caused by many factors, from nutritional deficiencies to premature birth and high fevers in infancy. Enamel hypoplasia staining looks much like fluorosis staining, and often appears as a milky white.
Demineralization: Demineralization of the tooth enamel is relatively common among braces wearers, but it can occur whenever bacterial plaque accumulates on the teeth. It causes milky white spots that look similar to enamel hypoplasia.
There are several different treatments available for white spots on teeth. Which you choose will depend on your budget, the severity of the spots, and your dentist’s recommendations. Some people actually use a combination of different treatments to achieve the best results.
Microabrasion: In microabrasion, the dentist removes the top layer of surface enamel from your teeth. This is highly successful for minor surface spots, and it may be combined with a whitening treatment for even better results.
Teeth Whitening: Whitening toothpastes and over the counter bleaches can help with very minor discoloration. To properly treat white spots, though, it is best to have an in-office whitening treatment or to have your dentist prescribe a take-home whitening kit.
Porcelain Veneers: If you have deep and/or widespread white spots, they may not be fixable with microabrasion or teeth whitening. In this case, porcelain veneers may be the best solution. We will remove less than a millimeter of healthy tooth structure to make room for very thin ceramic shells that slip over your teeth. Extremely natural in appearance, porcelain veneers are highly durable, long-lasting, and resistant to future staining. Note that if you only need a few teeth covered with veneers, you might choose to have the rest of your teeth whitened first. We will then color-match your veneers to your new bright white smile.
You can minimize the risk of white spots through good nutrition, keeping an eye on your child’s fluoride intake, and keeping braces scrupulously clean. Still, it is often impossible to avoid all white spots. Fortunately, with a combination of preventive measures and treatments, there is no need for you or child to suffer from the embarrassment of discolored teeth.
Want to Learn More?
Scrupulous oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing and flossing, as well as two professional cleanings per year, are the best way to keep your teeth white. You can also have them professionally whitened in our office or with a take-home bleaching system. To make sure your teeth stay as white as possible, though, it is important to pay attention to your diet. Here are some of the most notorious foods and beverages that cause tooth discoloration.
What Causes Teeth to Discolor?
Dark berries are excellent for your health, but carry a risk of staining your teeth. Among the worst stain inducers are raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries. Fortunately, though, you don’t need to cut dark berries out of your diet. Instead, drink plenty of plain water right after consuming them or drinking their juice, and follow up with a dairy product to neutralize their acids.
Tomatoes and Citrus Fruits
Brightly colored tomatoes and citrus fruits are a beautiful and healthy addition to any meal, but they are high in acids that can erode your tooth enamel, exposing the yellow-tinged dentin. Dark green vegetables such as kale and spinach contain natural tooth protectors, so dig into a salad before consuming these items when possible. Otherwise, be sure to thoroughly rinse your mouth with plain water after enjoying a glass of orange juice or a hearty tomato sauce.
Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea are highly satisfying, and entire cultures have developed around their preparation and consumption. However, they contain high levels of tannins, which can stain your teeth. Dairy is a natural tooth cleanser, so try adding a bit of milk to your coffee or tea. When practical, try drinking from a cup with a lid, which can keep your teeth from becoming coated. After you finish your tea or coffee, drink some plain water to rinse your mouth.
Most people are aware of the staining power of red wine, which contains tannins like coffee and tea. However, you might be unaware that white wine erodes tooth enamel like citrus foods. Alternate a glass of plain water after each glass of wine.
Curry is an incredibly popular spice in Indian cuisine, but it can gradually cause your teeth to yellow. Fortunately, many curry dishes contain natural tooth cleansers such as celery, carrots, apples, or cauliflower. Drinking milk or water with your curry dish can further help to protect your teeth.
Balsamic vinegar has an intense flavor that makes it a natural choice for vinaigrette dressings, but its dark, sticky nature can contribute to tooth staining. Thankfully, crunchy vegetables will help clean the balsamic vinegar from your teeth. Avoid totally saturating your salad, and include a wide variety of vegetables rather than just iceberg lettuce. Drink a glass of water afterwards to finish rinsing your mouth.
You don’t need to give up your favorite foods and drinks to protect your teeth from staining. Instead, practice moderation, pair products that stain with natural tooth cleansers, and drink plenty of plain water. In tandem with scrupulous oral hygiene, these simple steps can help keep your teeth looking their best.
Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.