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  • What Are Those White Spots on Your Teeth?

    The teeth whitening industry is worth billions of dollars a year, and it’s only getting larger. You’ve probably seen hundreds of adverts promising to remove the stains caused by coffee, smoking, spicy foods, and general wear and tear.

    And while yellowing teeth can certainly be unattractive to look at, there’s another type of discoloration that’s even more immediately visible. If your teeth are covered in small white spots or speckles, then the visual effect is even more obvious than a darker but more even discoloration.

    There are four main causes of this problem.

    1) Early Stages of Decay

    White speckles can be the first sign of tooth decay. Small groups of bacteria can begin eating away at the enamel, removing the naturally stained surface to reveal the lighter shades underneath. If you suspect this is the issue, visit your dentist for a checkup to prevent the problem from getting any worse.

     

    2) Demineralization

    If these local areas of bacteria aren’t removed, they can quickly weaken the dental enamel. As well as increasing the risk of decay, this lowers the calcium levels leaving permanent white spots on the surface of your teeth. This effect is particularly common in people wearing fixed dental braces, which often make thorough cleaning more difficult.

     

    3) Fluorosis

    If you’ve had the white spots from a young age, they could be a sign of a condition called fluorosis. This happens when teeth receive too much fluoride during their development.

    This isn’t usually because of brushing with fluoride toothpaste but comes about through excessive levels of fluoride in drinking water, or in mineral supplements taken for other health reasons. The results are permanent but can be disguised with cosmetic dentistry treatment.

     

    4) Enamel Hypoplasia

    If your teeth are suffering from a nutritional deficiency, enamel hypoplasia can often be the result. This often shows itself as white spots on your teeth where the mineral levels are lower they should be. Sometimes, the spots can be yellow or brown.

    As with demineralization damage, these spots are at a much higher risk of decay if they’re not dealt with.

    What to Do About White Spots

    There are three main ways of dealing with white spots on your teeth, whatever their underlying cause.

     

    Microabrasion

    This is a dental procedure which uses abrasive substances mixed with an acid to remove the top layer of dental enamel. In many cases, this will also remove the whitened or discolored spots.

     

    Teeth Bleaching

    Another approach is to whiten your entire smile using bleach or another lightening agent. Depending on the level of staining, this can even out your teeth color to a more uniform shade, making the spots less visible.

     

    Dental Veneers

    However, in more severe cases, dental veneers may be a more effective solution. Veneers are thin slices of porcelain or composite material shaped to fit over your teeth so that they cover and hide both staining and damage.

    Once fitted, they’re virtually undetectable, prevent further staining, and last for a decade or more. However, this is quite an involved and costly procedure which isn’t suitable for those with poor underlying dental health.

     

    No matter what the suspected cause, if you notice white spots on your teeth, make an appointment with your dentist to look into the problem. By taking quick action, you’ll have the best chance of finding a solution with as little fuss as possible.

  • How to spot and prevent dental erosion

    Tooth enamel can be worn away prematurely. Tooth erosion, which is common in adults but also seen in children and teens, invariably causes irreversible damage.

    What is dental erosion?

    Dental erosion occurs when the tooth enamel demineralizes due to acid in the mouth. When the pH level in your mouth falls below 5.5, the surface enamel weakens and the tooth becomes more fragile. In the advanced stages of dental erosion, the tooth’s biting edge becomes translucent and cracked, and it changes shape.

    The signs of dental erosion include:

    • Thinner surface enamel
    • Lost sheen
    • Yellowish colour
    • Sensitivity to cold, heat and sugar
    • Change in shape

    What causes dental erosion?

    Diet is the most common extrinsic cause. Acidic foods and beverages soften enamel and make teeth more susceptible to abrasion. Unfortunately even some healthy foods can negatively impact tooth integrity, such as apples, cheese, strawberries and tomatoes. Acidic drinks include wine, orange juice and soft drinks.

    Certain illnesses, like bulimia and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), are intrinsic factors that lead to dental erosion. Dry mouth can also cause dental erosion.

    Treatment and prevention

    When detected early, erosion can be slowed by adopting healthy eating habits and avoiding soft drinks and acidic beverages. Various treatments, such as veneers, are also available, depending on how serious the situation is. For more advanced cases, the best option is to devitalize the tooth and then restore it using resin or a crown.

    Tips and tricks:

    • Use a straw for soft drinks and acidic beverages
    • Take a sip of water after eating or drinking to rinse your mouth
    • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride to promote enamel remineralization
    • Wait an hour after eating before brushing your teeth

    To prevent premature enamel degradation, it’s important to eat right and use the proper brushing technique. Regular dental appoints are the best way to have your teeth checked for any signs of erosion.