Ask the Dentist – What are these white spots on my teeth and what caused them to appear?

Dr Shruthi Dayal

What are these white spots on my teeth and what caused them to appear?

-by Dr Shruthi Dayal

You may have noticed white spots on your teeth and asked yourself these questions. In most cases these white spots are not detrimental to the health of your teeth but can make people self-conscious. White spots on teeth can be caused by various factors. 

  • Demineralized enamel is caused by excessive long-term exposure to bacteria or plaque buildup. These white spots are often noticed along the gumline where plaque builds up or around brackets during orthodontic treatment. The bacterial accumulation attacks spots on your enamel and causes it to weaken. As the enamel wears away it causes the tooth to turn white or brown.
  • Hypoplastic enamel is caused by a disruption during the formation of enamel. For this reason it is mainly first noticed during childhood. There are numerous factors that can cause hypoplastic enamel such as illness, nutrients in the diet, hereditary factors, trauma, medications, and premature birth.
  • Fluorosis can also lead to white or brown spots. While fluoride is extremely important in strengthening enamel, too much of it can lead to white or brown spots on the teeth. This usually occurs when fluoride is absorbed in multiple forms such as fluoridated water, vitamin supplements that contain fluoride, and swallowing fluoride-containing toothpaste.

These white spots are areas that are closely monitored by your dentist as the enamel is more prone to developing into a cavity. If treatment is needed or you would like the white spot removed for cosmetic reasons treatment options include microabrasion, filling with tooth colored composite, or ICON resin infiltration.

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