Feeling self-conscious about your smile because of white spots? There are multiple causes for these blemishes on your teeth, from dental fluorosis to those tasty doughnuts you eat every other day.
While white spots on teeth are rarely a cause of concern from a health point of view, most people find them unsightly and would rather they weren't there.
What causes white spots?
A common cause is dental fluorosis, a usually harmless condition that mostly occurs during childhood when too much fluoride is consumed. It tends to develop before the teeth break through the gums.
Another common culprit is enamel hypoplasia, which occurs when tooth enamel does not form properly. Like fluorosis, hypoplasia only occurs during childhood when teeth are still developing.
Fond of sugary drinks and foods? These could also be the reason behind white spots, as can poor dental hygiene.
Treating those spots
If you want to remove those white spots, you need to choose a remedy that suits your particular needs.
There are several possible treatments for white spots. The best treatment for you may depend on the underlying cause of the white spots and the condition of your teeth.
Bleach-based tooth whitening can help balance the colour of your tooth enamel and reduce the visibility of white spots and other stains.
A variety of teeth whitening products, such as strips and toothpastes specifically for whitening purposes, are available over the counter (OTC).
People with white spots can also see a dentist for professional whitening treatments. The whitening treatments your dentist uses tends to contain stronger bleaching solutions than those available OTC and produce better results.
This procedure involves a dentist removing a thin layer of surface enamel to reduce the appearance of white spots.
Microabrasion is often followed with tooth-whitening treatments for a more polished appearance.
Dental veneers are thin protective coverings attached by your dentist to the surface of your teeth. Veneers are a great option if you have patches of discolouration that cannot be fixed with whitening alone.
Dental veneers should only be professionally applied by a dentist and are quite costly.
If you have enamel hypoplasia, your dentist might apply topical fluoride. This encourages the development of tooth enamel and helps prevent further tooth decay.
Tips for prevention
Practising good dental hygiene is vital for more reasons than one. It helps prevent white spots on teeth as well as other blemishes, tooth decay, gum disease and other dental issues. It is recommended that people brush their teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, as well as floss once a day.
In most people, white spots tend to develop before the age of 10. For this reason, it is important that children practise good dental hygiene and other preventative habits.
Following the tips below may help prevent white spots from developing on your teeth:
Use the right amount of toothpaste
Children under the age of three should not use more than a smear of toothpaste on their toothbrush.
In children older than three years of age, parents should ensure they are not using more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
For babies who primarily feed on infant formula, making up their formula milk with fluoride-free water can help prevent excess build-up of fluoride in their teeth.
Reduce your intake of sugary drinks and foods
Your tooth enamel can be damaged and your risk of tooth decay increased by certain foods and drinks, especially those high in sugars or acids.
Consuming too much of these substances can lead to teeth damage and blemishes, including white spots. Drinking water afterwards can help wash the teeth and reduce the chances of damage. Drinking sugary drinks through a straw may also help.
As mentioned above, white spots on one's teeth are usually harmless and treatment is purely for cosmetic purposes.
If you are concerned about white spots on your teeth, however, visit your dentist for a proper assessment.
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