While most people can all agree that visible white spots on the surface of your teeth are less than desirable in appearance, the excellent news is medically, they aren’t considered a severe cause for concern. When it comes to what’s causing your teeth to develop white spots, there are a few underlying causes behind why this happens, especially for kids and teens who have just finished orthodontic treatment.
Read on to learn the causes of white spots on the teeth, how you can treat them if they develop while wearing braces, and how to prevent them from happening to your child throughout their treatment plan.
Possible Causes Of White Spots On Teeth
There are several possible causes of why white spots develop on the teeth.
Braces or Other Orthodontic Treatments
Orthodontic white spot lesions appear as tiny white cavities that can negatively impact the smile you’ve worked so hard to achieve with orthodontic treatments such as braces. These white spots are caused by plaque buildup on the teeth from not thoroughly cleaning your teeth. Plaque buildup causes decalcification, and a white cavity forms on the surface of the tooth.
One of the top contributing factors for patients developing white spots is dental fluorosis. Typically a harmless condition, patients typically get this when they are young if they consumed too much fluoride as a child. This condition only tends to develop before the teeth break through the gums and is a common cause of white spots on teeth.
Much like fluorosis, Hypoplasia is a condition that occurs when a patient’s teeth enamel does not form correctly as a child. Only occurring during childhood when a patient’s teeth are still in the development stage, enamel hypoplasia can increase the risk of a patient developing tooth decay, making you more susceptible to things like cavities and plaque buildup.
Poor Dental Hygiene
White spots on the teeth can also form due to an accumulation of harmful plaque bacteria. This results from poor oral hygiene and not correctly brushing and flossing regularly or for long enough to ensure your mouth is really clean. Insufficient oral hygiene or an inability to thoroughly remove plaque buildup causes the demineralization of the tooth, leaving a white spot behind.
The foods and beverages you enjoy can also have a role in white spots developing on the teeth. This can be caused by nutrition, genetics, excessive intake of too many acidic or sugary foods, and poor oral hygiene habits.
Types of Tooth Discoloration
If your child’s teeth have started to develop white spots, it’s not quite time to panic yet. There are several possible treatments for white spots on the teeth, and the suitability of these treatments may depend on the underlying cause of the white spots and why they have formed. The teeth can become discolored by stains on the surface or by changes inside the tooth itself.
The three main types of tooth discoloration are:
- Extrinsic. This occurs when the outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is stained. Factors like drinking coffee, soda, or other dark-colored liquids can also cause extrinsic stains.
- Intrinsic. When the inner structure of the tooth (the dentin) darkens or develops a yellow tint. This type of discoloration appears from too much exposure to fluoride as a child. The use of tetracycline antibiotics during pregnancy or childhood or from experiencing trauma to a tooth.
- Age-Related Discoloration. As our teeth age, extrinsic and intrinsic factors combine, the enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner, and dentin naturally yellows over time.
Treating White Spots After Orthodontic Treatment
When it comes to whitening teeth after braces, it’s always a great idea to check with your dental professional before beginning any whitening regimen, especially if you attempt to correct an issue such as white spots. Teeth whitening can help reduce the appearance of white spots and other stains, and depending on the severity of the white spots, an at-home whitening kit may be effective enough. If the white spots are more severe, a professional whitening treatment may be necessary to eliminate them.
If your child recently got their braces off and has visible white spots on their teeth, ask Thomas Orthodontics what you can do to help at their next follow-up appointment.