If you've discovered some unsightly white spots on your teeth, it is important that you visit your dentist to isolate the cause of the problem. These spots can be the result of many things, from tartar buildup to the decalcification of tooth enamel. Here's a look at how you can expect your dentist to treat the condition based on what caused it.
Tarter forms on your teeth when plaque is left without brushing or is missed during brushing. When plaque forms around your gum line, it can start to harden and turn into tartar, which often resembles white spots on your teeth. The only way to deal with tartar buildup is with a thorough professional dentist cleaning. Your dentist will use an ultrasonic cleaning device to clear the tartar away. If the buildup is severe, your dentist may need to do a tartar scrape, which eliminates the tartar that's built up just under your gum line. The deep cleaning of a tartar scrape will help to reduce inflammation that can cause gum disease. After giving your gums some time to heal from this treatment, your dentist will plan a follow-up appointment for any final cleaning and polishing that may be needed, as well as to inspect your gums to be sure that they are healing properly.
The formation of tooth enamel happens as your teeth are developing. Sometimes, whether due to genetic or environmental issues, that enamel doesn't form properly. A condition called hypoplasia refers to enamel that is abnormally thin. Thin enamel can allow dentin to show through, which results in yellow or milky-white flaws on the teeth.
If your hypoplasia is mild enough that you're just concerned about appearances, your dentist may recommend a procedure that involves bleaching to restore the appearance of your teeth. If your hypoplasia is more severe, you may need to have your teeth protected by resin or a veneer.
If your child consumes too much fluoride during the development of his or her permanent teeth, you may find that some of the tooth enamel on those permanent teeth show chalky, white spots on the surface of the tooth. This is a sign of fluorosis, or too much fluoride.
Although you cannot eliminate fluorosis, you can reduce its appearance by having your child's teeth bleached. This will smooth out the appearance of the teeth. In other cases, the dentist may recommend the use of veneers to cover the appearance of the spots.
Whether your child has braces or struggles with routine brushing, sometimes decalcification develops. This happens when plaque creates bacteria, because the bacteria releases acids that can actually pull calcium from tooth enamel. This causes the development of white spots on the surface of the teeth.
You can replenish some calcium and treat the teeth with fluoride, but the white spots won't go away even with these treatments. Sometimes, your dentist may suggest bleaching for these spots, but in either case, he or she will want to monitor their condition, because those spots will be more prone to decay.
You can reduce your risk of decay through more frequent professional cleanings and routine in-office fluoride treatments. In other cases, you may find that your dentist suggests protecting the teeth by covering them with veneers. Veneers are usually restricted for cases of severe decalcification, but the treatment is effective in moderate cases as well.
Understanding the causes of these white spots can help you address your concerns with a cosmetic dentist. He or she may be able to provide you with a treatment recommendation once the specific cause is identified. With the information here, you might be able to help narrow things down.