Pearly white teeth are a major contributor to an attractive smile. However, there are people who have white patches or spots on their teeth, which are aesthetically not that appealing. Did you ever wonder what the causes of this are and what you can do about it?

Possible Causes

There are several causes that may cause white or yellow patches/spots on one’s teeth. These include:

  • Hypocalcification

This is a condition when the enamel of the tooth is not fully formed and shows up in the form of white, yellow or brown patches on the tooth surface. Other than the discoloration, hypocalcified teeth may feel more sensitive than normal teeth. Thus, those with this condition should avoid food and beverages that are highly acidic to minimize discomfort.

  • Fluorosis

Dental Fluorosis is a condition where a person received too much fluoride during the formation of the teeth, either by consumption (e.g. in the drinking water or supplements) or application (e.g. toothpaste) which may cause discoloration to the teeth. Be aware that not all patches is a sign of fluorosis, thus avoiding the use of fluoride may not be wise, as fluoride helps in preventing tooth decay. If detected early, fluorosis at an early age could be prevented before it worsens. A paediatric dentist would be able to advise whether fluoride supplements are necessary for your child.

  • Demineralization

Demineralization is the earliest stage of tooth decay. It starts with the accumulation of plaque which is the grounding place for bacteria that produces acid causing tooth decay. When the principal component of the mineral on teeth, calcium phosphate, starts dissolving, discoloration (e.g. white streak) may show.

Possible Treatments

The first thing that comes to mind to get a pearly white smile is teeth whitening.  However, it is important to find out the cause of the discoloration. A simple cleaning or whitening may work to a certain extent for discoloration that is caused by external factors like consumption of coloured food and beverages. (For more information on considerations before whitening, check out previous post).

In the case of initial decay, strengthening the tooth is important before the decay worsens and causes cavity. With a regular check-up, your dentist would be able to do a thorough examination to detect this and treatment recommendation may be given, such as the application of high dose fluoride to restore the dissolved mineral on the tooth.

However, when the discoloration is due to hypocalcification (which is congenital) or severe fluorosis, other aesthetic treatment options, such as veneers, may be recommended. Veneers are thin custom-made porcelain shells designed to fit discreetly over the teeth.

The key to a successful treatment is to get a proper examination and diagnosis so that the proper treatment options may be recommended.

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