What to do about your white spots?

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white spots

White marks on teeth are common and if visible on the front teeth they can cause concern to our patients. And we often get asked what the options are for removing them after orthodontic brace treatment.

In the mildest form they may appear as small white “spots” on the surface of a single tooth.

512px-Dental_fluorosisIn the more severe forms they can affect all of the teeth and even present as unsightly “pits” on the teeth, causing sensitivity to hot and cold and a risk of tooth decay. There may also be brown discolouration.

The two questions we get asked is “what has caused it?” and “what can I do about it?”

Causes of white spots

Common causes include:

  • Excessive fluoride consumption as a child: this is called “fluorosis” and is one of the reasons that children should not swallow their toothpaste.
  • Viral infections in childhood: e.g. chicken pox
  • Premature birth
  • Damage to a front baby tooth, which affects the development of the adult tooth under it
  • Various genetic disorders

Quite often there is no obvious cause, especially if there is just a single white mark on one tooth. Your dentist may even helpfully call it “idiopathic” which means we don’t know…always a good word to know as a healthcare professional!

How can we treat white spots?

One option is…do nothing at all! If white spots are quite small and few in number, it may be that only you notice them when checking your teeth out in the bathroom mirror. Maybe most people would never notice them…in which case “doing nothing” may be a good option.

However if white marks are very noticeable, here are some of the options that dentists can use:

  • Microabrasion : this involves “polishing” the teeth with a mixture of pumice and acid: this is a particularly good technique for fluorosis.
  • Bleaching : especially if the white marks have taken on a brown dicolouration
  • Tooth coloured fillings: useful if  teeth are “pitted”
  • Veneers or crowns

It is important to seek a dental professional for advice on how best to treat white spots as some techniques are more suitable than others, depending on the cause of the white spots and how extensive they are.

Some techniques can be used at any age, some are best done at the age of 18 years.

Your dentist may not be experienced in all of the techniques listed but should be able to refer you elsewhere if required.

 Other information

Why having slightly yellow teeth may be natural!

About Cleveland Orthodontics

Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East and Teesside, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham and Redcar.

We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available… you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.

Image by josconklin (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons