Improving Your Smile
"I have some white spots on my front teeth. Is there some way to polish them off?" This is a very common question dentists and dental hygeinists hear every day. I'll share the facts and treatment options for dealing with this cosmetic issue.
FACTS & OPTIONS
Patients often want to know why these spots formed, what to do to prevent them and how to treat these spots. It is not uncommon to have some uneven color to your teeth, but at times these color variations can be quite noticable.
White spots on the teeth can occur from a variety of reasons. The most common causes of white spots are decalcification and fluorosis:
1. Decalcification is the loss of calcium from the teeth. This loss of calcium can occur when there is an excessive build up of plaque on the teeth for long periods of time. It is common for children with braces to develop decalcification around the brackets due to plaque build up. Frequent pop consumption or consumption of other acidic beverages can also cause decalcification. Decalcification shows up as chalky white spots on the otherwise smooth and shiny enamel. For these reasons, good brushing techniques and regular cleanings are very important not only for your oral health, but also to preserve the appearance of your teeth.
2. Fluorosis occurs if the teeth are exposed to high concentrations of fluoride during their development. The risk of fluoride exposure occurs between the ages of 3 months to 8 years of age. Mild fluorosis appears the same as decalcification-chalky white spots on otherwise smooth and shiny enamel. Talk to your dentist or doctor about fluoride supplements. At times, parents give their children additional fluoride in the form of a small pill. This along with the normal fluoride found in most city water sources can result in excessive fluoride intake. Keep in mind that most toothpaste products contain some fluoride as well and swallowing some of that will also contribute to the total fluoride intake.
Brighten Your Smile
If white spots from either decalcification or fluorosis are less than .2mm in depth there is a polish that can work to remove the defects. The polish is a combination of a gentle whitening solution and an abrasive paste. It is safe to use as long as there is healthy enamel surrounding the white spots. The procedure is quick and painless. Avoid trying to remove these spots yourself. Repetitive scraping or use of harsh abrasive materials will damage teeth.
It is important to mention that bleach products and over the counter whitening products will not address these white spots. In fact, these whitening products may cause these spots to stand out even further.
If you have white spots and would like to know if they can be polished away, ask your dentist for an evaluation.