What Causes White Spots on Teeth? (& What to Do)

White spots on the teeth can be a sign of cavities, excess fluoride, changes in enamel formation or increased acidity in the mouth. They can appear on both baby teeth and adult teeth.

To prevent the appearance of white spots on the teeth, you are advised to see your dentist periodically for a routine cleaning to remove plaque, tartar and stains. The dentist may also recommend microabrasion treatment or teeth whitening to improve the appearance of teeth.

In addition, the dentist may recommend a change in diet, mainly avoiding acidic foods and drinks so that no further damage to enamel occurs. It is also important to perform adequate oral hygiene, at least twice a day with brushing and flossing.

Imagem ilustrativa número 1

Main causes

The most common causes of white spots on the teeth include:

1. Cavities

Cavities can cause wear of the enamel, leading to the appearance of white spots on teeth. In this case, the stains normally appear in places where there is accumulation of food, such as near the gums and between the teeth, which can promote bacterial and plaque growth.

Cavities are usually related to a lack of adequate oral hygiene and are associated with excessive consumption of sweet foods, which favors bacterial growth and the appearance of plaque.

What to do: In case of cavities, it is important to see a dentist for a tooth cleaning and treatment as necessary. Most times, cavities require filling. 

It is also important to maintain oral hygiene by brushing your teeth well, preferably with fluoride toothpaste, and flossing at least twice a day, especially before bed.

2. Fluorosis

Fluorosis is characterized by excess fluoride  exposure during tooth development, either through excessive application by a dentity, excessie amounts of toothpaste when burshing or accidental consumption of toothpaste with fluoride. This condition can leads to the appearance of white spots on teeth.

Fluoride is an important chemical element to prevent teeth from losing their minerals. It also prevents tooth breakdown caused by bacteria and substances present in saliva and food. Fluoride is normally applied in a dentist's office from the age of 3, but it can also be present in toothpastes, with a small amount being used on a daily basis. 

What to do: White spots caused by excess fluoride can be removed by whitening or placing dental veneers, as recommended by your dentist.

3. Enamel hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a condition characterized by a deficiency in the formation of tooth enamel. It leads to the appearance of small lines, as well as missing parts of the tooth, changes in tooth color or the appearance of stains, depending on the degree of hypoplasia.

People with enamel hypoplasia are more likely to have cavities and suffer from sensitivity, so it is important to visit the dentist regularly and maintain good oral hygiene.

What to do: stains caused by hypoplasia are normally easily treated through tooth whitening or with remineralizing toothpastes. However, if, in addition to the stains, parts of the teeth are missing, the dentist may recommend dental implants.

4. High acidity in the mouth

A higher acidity level in the mouth can lead to the demineralization of tooth enamel and white spots on the tooth. Increased acidity in the mouth can be caused by an increase in the consumption of very acidic foods, a decrease in the amount of saliva produced or acid reflux.

What to do: it is important that the cause of increased acidity is identified so targeted treatment can be initiated. Your doctor may advise diet changes in order to reduce acid intake.