By: Orthodontist Ami Inoue
Teeth develop white spots for several reasons, some more serious than others. A lot of times we wonder if they’re a cosmetic issue that will go away, or if they’re indicators of a bigger health issue. A lot of times white spots are a loss of mineral content in the enamel. This loss of mineral content is the result of a buildup of acidity in the plaque on our teeth. Acidity comes from the foods and drinks we consume but is also a byproduct of the bacteria in our mouth, which creates more acid when we consume carbohydrates. Another common cause of a white spot is trauma to the tooth during development.
Besides being a cosmetic concern for many people, these white spots can actually result in the deterioration of teeth. In fact, the first evidence of tooth decay is a white spot lesion, meaning that the tooth’s enamel has been compromised, leaving an opaque, chalky white spot.
What is a White Spot Lesion?
Essentially, a white spot lesion is the area where the tooth began to decay, and it is the first sign of a cavity. For individuals with braces, these are very common and are the reason that proper oral hygiene is so important when wearing braces. Being sure to brush and floss around the brackets and under the wire is the first defense in ensuring that you don’t have white spot lesions form on your teeth. A proper diet is also important in the prevention of white spot formation. Avoiding drinks that contain sugar or are high in acidity, as well as decreasing the frequency of carbohydrate intake is important to safeguard the integrity of your tooth’s enamel.
Braces aren’t the cause of white spot lesions and if you maintain proper care of your teeth, and monitor diet choices, you shouldn’t have to worry about their development. Plaque builds up in hard to reach places due to the shape and placement of your braces, which make it more difficult to brush your teeth properly. If you do not practice proper hygiene, when braces are removed you may have white spots around where your braces were placed and face tooth decay and staining.
If your braces come off and you have white spot lesions, work with your dentist to determine the best course of action for preventing additional decay and cavities.
Can My Dentist Remove White Spots?
White spot lesions are a permanent change in the structure of your tooth and thus are not removable. Your dentist’s ability to reduce the appearance of white spots depends on several factors, such as:
- Size of the white spots
- Cause of the spots
- Deterioration of the enamel
- Overall quantity of spots on teeth
When you see signs of white spots, it is important to visit your dentist as quickly as you are able in order to prevent additional problems, like cavities, from occurring further down the line. If your situation is one that is easily corrected, one of the easiest treatments is micro-abrasion.
In the case that your white spots are the result of something more serious or you have a high quantity of white spots, your dentist may recommend capping the teeth, using a white filling or applying a veneer.
If you are experiencing white spots or would like tips on preventing white spot lesions while wearing braces, my team is happy to assist you in finding the right solution. Request an appointment below for more information.