What Causes White Spots on my Teeth?

dentist near CharlottesvilleHave you noticed discoloration on your teeth like white spots? While discussions of tooth discoloration normally center on dark stains, there are lighter forms of discoloration that might be cause for concern for a patient and his or her dentist. White spots can convey a couple different common dental issues. In some cases, white spots are purely a cosmetic issue and not an indication that a tooth is diseased. Sometimes, however, a white spot can indicate early forming tooth decay.

When a white spot is only a cosmetic issue, it means the white spot likely formed after overexposure to fluoride or antibiotics while teeth are still developing during adolescence. If fluoride is the culprit, white spots can appear in the shape of striations, too. When antibiotics contribute to white spots, they can appear in circular and oval shapes.

Unfortunately, a white spot is not always a cosmetic concern. Sometimes teeth can appear whiter in areas when a cavity is forming. During early stage tooth decay, the enamel surface of teeth is permanently damaged and cavity-causing bacteria have begun to reach the dentin layer of teeth beneath enamel. Dentin is considerably softer than tooth enamel. Since it is protected from what the outer surface of teeth is exposed to, dentin tends to look much whiter than tooth structure. A quick oral examination will be able to determine if white spots are a cosmetic issue or one that requires professional intervention.

Treating Tooth Decay

If white spots are the result of forming tooth decay, there are treatment options available. Teeth can be strengthened with services like fluoride treatments and dental sealants. If tooth enamel cannot be strengthened with preventive services, a restoration like a filling might be necessary. A filling is a small restoration that fills in the depression caused by a cavity while helping a tooth stay strong. Placing a filling is a comfortable procedure that is minimally invasive.

When you notice changes in your oral health, it is important to discuss them with your dentist. For additional information, contact us at Charlottesville Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center!