What Are Those White Spots on My Teeth?

Cleaning and whitening teeth concept vector illustration. Snow-white Happy Tooth and Yellow Moody Tooth Cartoon characters in flat design. Tooth before and after whitening infographic elements.

If you’ve ever noticed that your teeth have subtle (or not-so-subtle) white spots or streaks on them, you could be seeing what’s called dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is a condition in which the teeth were exposed to too much fluoride while they were still developing, and as a result, their appearance has been affected.

Here’s what you need to know about dental fluorosis, including the causes, treatment options, and prognosis for people living with the condition!

Causes of Dental Fluorosis

Dental fluorosis typically happens before the age of eight, or before the permanent teeth have a chance to erupt through the gum tissue [1]. Although baby teeth can have dental fluorosis, the condition is generally more common on adult teeth, which means the discoloration will be permanent.

The condition happens when too much fluoride is present in a child’s diet or oral care products. Although fluoride is important for preventing tooth decay, there is such a thing as too much fluoride. Getting too much fluoride from tap water, oral care products, and swallowing toothpaste as a child can increase the risk for dental fluorosis.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options for people who are self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth with dental fluorosis [2]. For some people, the fluorosis will be very subtle, but for others, it can be more noticeable. Depending on your unique smile, you may be able to choose from treatments such as:

  • Teeth whitening. Teeth whitening can reduce the appearance of dental fluorosis in
    some cases, and help even out the appearance of your smile.
  • Dental bonding. Dental bonding uses a tooth-colored composite resin to help repair
    minor damage to teeth, including helping to improve the overall evenness of your tooth
    color.
  • Microabrasion. This dental procedure involves removing a tiny amount of tooth enamel
    to help even out the appearance of your tooth color.
  • Veneers. If your dental fluorosis is severe and doesn’t respond to other treatment
    options, you may have the option of getting dental veneers on the affected teeth.
  • Dental crowns. Some patients may qualify for dental crowns to cover teeth that have
    been severely affected by dental fluorosis.

You and your dentist can discuss what treatment options are available to you during your consultation!

Prognosis and Prevention

Although the appearance of dental fluorosis can be frustrating, it doesn’t affect your oral health, and having dental fluorosis doesn’t mean you should avoid fluoride. People with dental fluorosis can have healthy teeth for life!

Asking your dentist about your child’s fluoride exposure is an essential part of ensuring your child is getting the right amount of fluoride [3]. Children under the age of six generally shouldn’t use mouth rinses that contain fluoride, and your dentist can advise you on the right type of toothpaste for your child to avoid both cavities and dental fluorosis.

Do You Have Dental Fluorosis?

If you have dental fluorosis that’s impacting how you feel about your smile, follow up with your dentist to learn more about your cosmetic options for your teeth. You can help reduce the appearance of fluorosis so you can be confident about your smile!

Sources:
1. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/fluorosis
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883808/
3. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/FAQ-

Summary
What Are Those White Spots on My Teeth?
Article Name
What Are Those White Spots on My Teeth?
Description
If you have dental fluorosis that’s impacting how you feel about your smile, follow up with your dentist to learn more about your cosmetic options for your teeth. You can help reduce the appearance of fluorosis so you can be confident about your smile!
Author
Centreville Dental Wellness Center