Most people love the idea of having brilliantly white teeth. The brightness of the smile has become a significant indicator of youthfulness, friendliness, and even success. What happens if the white you see on your front teeth appears in spot form? White spots on teeth aren’t something we want to see. They are, however, relatively common. Here, we discuss what white spots are and what you can do about them.
Fluorosis, the White we Don’t Want
When white spots appear on front teeth, it is because fluoride has slightly damaged tooth enamel. Wait, what? Fluoride is the mineral that we brush with and consume so that our teeth can grow stronger and resist cavities! This is true. There are benefits to fluoride. However, in the case of fluorosis, too much fluoride has been consumed. But there’s a catch.
Fluorosis seems to occur when a child ingests fluoride during the years in which teeth are forming. It is for this reason that toothpaste formulas for children do not contain fluoride or do so in minimal amounts. The problem is, many parents may share their own toothpaste with children, and younger children lack the full ability to spit all product out. If toothpaste is swallowed routinely, enamel mineralization may suffer. It isn’t the fluoride in toothpaste alone that is responsible for white spots on developing teeth. We must remember that most public water sources are also fluoridated, as is most bottled water. Therefore, children are obtaining fluoride from multiple sources. Just like anything in life, a little bit is good, too much is just too much.
In most cases of enamel discoloration, it is assumed that teeth whitening is the answer. This may not be the case with fluorosis. Teeth whitening treatment works by reaching into the pores of enamel and disrupting settlements of debris so more light can reflect off tooth surfaces. Debris does not cause fluorosis; weakened enamel causes it. Therefore, teeth whitening may not achieve the desired result for the teen or adult with white spots.
Sometimes, a dentist can buff white spots to decrease their appearance. However, this can only be done if there is certainty that enamel will not be compromised. Our top priority is to ensure that teeth can resist decay. For this reason, we may recommend porcelain crowns or veneers as the optimal solution to fluorosis spots.
White spots do not have to affect the appearance of your smile negatively. Call our Grayslake office at (847) 223-5200 to explore treatment options.