Brushing your teeth every day and periodic cleaning are essential for good dental health. At times, you may see some white spots on your teeth. What causes such white spots? How to make them go away? It is important to know more about these.

Your teeth are a simple but a great index of dental health. When you observe white-colored spots or blotches on your teeth, they may indicate a likely decay. These white-colored spots may show up due to many reasons. It is recommended to consult your dentist once you see such spots. The common reasons for the development of white spots on teeth are –

#1. Keeping your mouth open while you sleep – If the white spots on your teeth go away after sometime, it can be due to sleeping with your mouth in an open position.

Dehydration of the surface of enamel is a main reason for these white spots. However, when you wet your teeth with saliva or water, you may see these white spots going away. It is very likely that you are keeping your mouth open as you sleep because of a nasal block or cold with a runny nose.

#2. Formation of plaque – Plaque caused by bacteria can get accumulated on your teeth, leading to white spots on them. This is found to occur when you are not flossing or brushing your teeth regularly. People who are wear braces may also develop such white spots; this is because the brackets (of their dental braces) may pose limitations in reaching the interiors of teeth, especially while cleaning or brushing. Plaque is often accumulated in and around the regions where braces are attached in your mouth.

#3. Foods you consume – If there is an excessive amount of acidity in foods that you regularly eat, white spots may occur on teeth. This is because highly acidic foods can wear off the enamel of your teeth. Excessive intake of citric fruits like grapefruit, oranges, lemons as well as fluids such as sodas may lead to this condition.

#4. Nutritional deficiency and other causes – Inadequate intake of essential nutrients can lead to a thinning down of enamel of your teeth. This condition may be triggered when your immune system gets weakened (due to malnutrition). Other causes include habits such as smoking (especially when you are pregnant) and intake of antibiotics (a few of them may trigger poor absorption of nutrients).

How to treat these white spots?

White spots on teeth can be treated through different approaches. If flu or cold is making you to sleep by keeping your mouth open, your doctor may administer antiviral drugs or cold medications. You can also use nasal decongestants to unblock your nasal passages. These methods can help clear the blocks and enable you to close your mouth while sleeping. Your dentist may also recommend a strap fixed onto your chin to keep your mouth closed. This belt-like strap is latched on the chin in order to tighten it and make it remain closed all through the night.

For acute discoloration of teeth, your dentist may recommend veneers. A veneer covers the visible areas of your teeth and conceals white spots effectively. It is often made of porcelain and a custom mold is taken to suit the contours of your teeth. Once ready, the porcelain covering is fixed with a permanent bond.

Your dentists may bleach your teeth to balance the color of your enamel. This process bleaches the teeth and matches the white spots with the rest of your teeth. However, this is not considered as a reliable method. This is because an overuse of fluoride may further lighten the white spots and can show up as more white shades on your teeth.

Last but not the least, your dentist may advise you to go for abrasion (commonly referred as micro-abrasion). This treatment removes a fine layer from the surface of teeth’s enamel. Abrasion (at a milder level) is used to perform this procedure. This is known to effectively remove white spots and can also render added attractiveness to your smile.

How to prevent white spots on your teeth?

It is rightly said that prevention is always better than cure. White spots on your teeth can be avoided if you adhere to good dental care practices. It means you need to brush and floss your teeth on a daily basis. You can consider buying an electric toothbrush to effectively remove plaque as and when it accumulates. It is also recommended to rinse and wash your mouth after every meal. Never go to sleep in the night without flossing your teeth.

Jet-floss (water-based floss) can also be used to clear food debris from your mouth. You can ask the dentist to recommend a tooth paste that can decontaminate (demineralize) your enamel. It is one proven step to avoid white spots being formed on teeth.

Alter the type of foods that you take regularly or often. For example, stay away from excessively acidic and sugary foods. Also, avoid using too much of fluoride, especially for your children. The easiest way to do this is to stop applying more toothpaste on your children’s toothbrush. Instead, apply only a very small quantity of paste (equal to the size of a peanut) on their toothbrush. Some children have the habit of eating their toothpaste as they brush. Let them know it is not a good habit to eat one’s toothpaste. Stay by your children’s side till they complete their brushing.

If you thought that only toothpastes have fluoride in them, it is incorrect; some soft drinks, packaged water as well as juices may also contain fluoride in them. Tell your children to minimise the intake of foods with high-fluoride content.

Women who are pregnant need to stop smoking; this can help in healthy teeth formation for your newly born baby.

In essence, white spots on teeth may occur due to (a) keeping your mouth open while sleeping (this leads to dehydration and can trigger white spots), (b) plaque formation on your teeth (people who do not take care of their teeth as well as those who wear braces are more susceptible to plaque), (c) intake of excessively acidic or sugary foods (these wear away the enamel of your teeth) and deficiency of nutrition (inadequate nutrients can thin down your teeth’s enamel).

Other reasons such as consumption of antibiotics, smoking, etc. may also lead to white spots on your teeth. These white spots can be treated by bleaching your teeth, micro-abrasion or wearing veneers. You are advised to have an open discussion with your dentist. Your dentist may administer a suitable treatment plan after assessing your dental health.

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