White spots on teeth can ruin an otherwise attractive smile and make you self-conscious when smiling around other people. However, if white spots have appeared on your teeth, you may have more to worry about than just the way your smile looks. While white spots can appear for several reasons, they may also be an early sign of tooth decay.
Long before a cavity forms, and a tooth begins to rot, a white lesion may appear on the surface of the tooth. This is the first sign of decay. You should count yourself lucky that you have been forewarned in this manner, as white spots don't always appear when tooth decay is occurring. Many of the close to 4 billion sufferers of tooth decay around the world won't notice what's happening until a cavity has formed.
However, before you can take action, you must first identify the reason.
Hypocalcification or Hypoplasia
These two symptoms are related in that they both occur while a tooth is still developing in your jaw. This condition arises when the tooth is disturbed, usually while you still have your baby teeth. If a baby tooth is injured, for example, struck by a ball and pushed backwards into the developing permanent tooth still in the jaw, this may cause hypocalcification and/or hypoplasia. Severely decayed baby teeth left untreated can also affect a developing permanent tooth.
If you think back to your childhood, you may be able to recall a moment when you might have injured a baby tooth. The tooth that comes through after may lack tooth enamel (hypocalcification) and have white spots. The tooth may also be malformed (hypoplasia).
Your dentist may be able to remove the white spots by polishing them away. However, the affected teeth may also need to be treated with composite bonding to provide more support to the weakened structure.
This is another condition that starts in early childhood and occurs because an excessive amount of fluoride has been ingested while the teeth are still developing up to the age of around 6. Fluorosis can come about if children regularly swallow toothpaste containing fluoride or drink water containing fluoride.
To remove these white or brown spots from your teeth, a dentist will polish your teeth or whiten them with a bleaching gel.
Decalcification (Early Tooth Decay)
White spots are also caused by the early onset of tooth decay and appear prior to cavities due to the demineralization of the tooth. If you allow plaque (biofilm containing bacteria) to build up on your teeth, the microbes that thrive on the sugars you consume will run rampant. The acid they deposit on your teeth after metabolizing the sugar, slowly eats away at your tooth enamel. If white spots have appeared for this reason, you have an opportunity to put a stop to the decay before it causes a cavity.
To treat this form of white spot, you should improve your daily oral health routine. Keep your body hydrated so it produces enough bacteria-killing saliva, use fluoride toothpaste and chew xylitol gum to heal the damage to your tooth.
If you have noticed white spots on your teeth, don't leave anything to chance. Book a dental appointment and have them checked out before the condition worsens.