You may have noticed that some people have splotchy or semilunar white areas on their teeth. Although having “white” teeth is considered beautiful in American culture, these bright white spots are rather unsightly: their uneven appearance make teeth look dirty or just unusual.
In general, white spots can come from 3 sources, the first one being BY FAR the most common.
Poor oral hygiene
- Here’s a mini oral science lesson: Plaque is made up primarily of bacteria (yes, that’s a lot of bacteria if you can SEE them!) and our food residue. These bacteria feed off of the sugars from our food and drinks and produce waste that’s highly acidic. Their acid is so strong that it eats away at the minerals of our teeth, hence how cavities or holes form in teeth! The beginning stage of cavity development is surface mineral loss, which makes a given area of a tooth appear white. Dentists and orthodontists refer to this damage as “White Spot Lesions”.
- Unfortunately, when people do not keep their teeth and gums clean by brushing and flossing thoroughly and frequently enough, this damaging process can occur. Having braces on your teeth provides more areas for food and plaque to get stuck, which is why brushing and flossing is extra important during your orthodontic treatment!
- What’s worse is that this visible demineralization is a SCAR: it is usually PERMANENT! Yes, that means that poor oral hygiene as a child or adolescent can affect the appearance of your teeth for life!
- White spot lesions can be somewhat camouflaged with tooth bleaching and may sometimes be lessened by regular exposure to moderate amounts of fluoride over time (in addition to good oral hygiene, of course).
- Although fluoride in the recommended amount of exposure is highly protective of our teeth, children can get too much of it when their permanent teeth are developing. It may result in white spots on the teeth that are present as soon as the tooth comes into the mouth or, in even higher amounts, may cause the teeth to be brown and mottled (this rarely happens anymore now that fluoride content in our public water is regulated). Follow your general dentist’s recommendations on the appropriate toothpastes, mouth rinses, and any other products sources of fluoride.
Improper Enamel formation
- An infection or trauma of a baby tooth can cause improper enamel formation of the permanent tooth that’s developing in the jaws. This can result in insufficient mineral content to the teeth that also results in white spots. Sometimes this can even occur in the absence of infection or trauma for reasons that are unknown. However, this is a rarity.
If you have questions about the condition of you or your child’s teeth or oral hygiene while undergoing orthodontic treatment, Dr.s Abdoney and Cronauer would be pleased to answer them! We welcome patients who are involved and interested in their oral health! 🙂