White, shiny teeth are considered healthy, beautiful teeth. But, what happens to cause those dull, white spots that stand out on teeth, and are they healthy? Those dull white spots are usually the result of a loss of minerals in the enamel layer of the tooth. But why does it happen? Should I worry? Some surprising causes of those white spots are…
- Bacteria Overgrowth
- Too Much Fluoride
- Nutritional Deficits
- Some Medicines
- Smoking… While Pregnant
- High Fevers
Bacteria love to grow on teeth. Cavity causing bacteria particularly love to grow in the high acid environment that results from eating. Poor brushing technique lets the bacteria continue to flourish. Braces and other glued in dental appliances can make it more difficult to brush well. It’s important to be vigilant about brushing well, particularly when wearing braces, to keep cavity causing bacteria from stripping minerals away from teeth, causing the white spots that easily progress to full cavities.
Too Much Fluoride
Normally, we think of fluoride as a good thing for teeth, and it is. But, a condition called fluorosis can happen if you get way too much fluoride. The people most likely to suffer from fluorosis are children; their smaller bodies have lower capacities for fluoride. That’s the reason all toothpastes that contain fluoride advise carefully supervising children while brushing and using a pea-sized amount of cleaner. Of course, fluoride in proper amounts is still good for teeth, especially in childhood when teeth are growing in, so it’s important to check with your dentist if you have concerns about whether you or your child are getting the correct amount of fluoride. CariFree Gels come in fluoride-free and fluoride containing varieties to help meet your needs.
A diet short in calcium deprives your body of the building blocks of healthy enamel. In fact, several minerals that are part of a healthy and balanced diet help build up tooth enamel, and not having enough minerals available can mean your teeth pay the price with white, demineralized spots. Interestingly enough, celiac disease, because it causes the intestines to malfunction and not absorb nutrients, can cause significant, demineralized white spots on the teeth.
We count on medicine to make us healthy. Unfortunately, some medicines have been known to cause white spots on tooth enamel. That’s one reason why certain antibiotics are not approved for use in children. Make sure if you are pregnant or nursing to share that information with any doctor prescribing medication for you. Don’t share prescriptions, and use medications exactly as prescribed. If you do end up with white spots after medical treatment, see your dentist for help treating them (and making sure you’ve identified all possible causes).
As if we needed another example of the negative side effects of smoking, smokers are not just risking their own teeth. Pregnant smokers run the risk of damaging the unborn baby’s teeth. Teeth form early, well before the baby is born. So, save your baby from weak spots and lifelong tooth struggles, and avoid tobacco while pregnant.
A high fever in a child can cause the dreaded white spot on a tooth, linked to the loss of minerals on that spot. High fevers during permanent tooth development can even contribute to Contemporaneous Hypoplasia. While it may not be your first thought to keep your child brushing their teeth through a bout with the flu, it is important to encourage proper hygiene when possible. Even a gentle swipe with the toothbrush and plain water can help rehydrate a dry mouth and remove some plaque acids.
But I Have the White Spots! What Now?
See your dentist. He or she can help polish the teeth and whiten up the surrounding tooth for a better cosmetic appearance. In extreme cases, you and your dentist may find that applying veneers to the teeth (once they have been re-strengthened) gives you the cosmetic look you prefer. Remineralizing the white spot can strengthen it back up, helping prevent a cavity from forming. CariFree tooth gels have bio-available nano-hydroxyapatite crystallites to help remineralize teeth and xylitol to help fight cavity-causing bacteria. Don’t ignore white spots. See your dentist today.