White spots on your teeth are indicative of one of a few types of dental problems. Though they are different from cavities to start, they can eventually also lead to issues like tooth decay. The good news is that, unlike cavities and dark spots, white spots can typically be cleaned and fixed before much damage is done. White spots can happen for a few reasons, but regardless of the reason, treatment is usually to remove the lesions or to cover them up if they don't pose a serious threat.
A common cause for white spots on children and young adults' teeth is an issue called fluorosis. Fluorosis is caused by an excessive intake of fluoride, which may sound like a good problem to have for your teeth, but this can actually cause a buildup of calcium on your enamel, which subsequently weakens it and makes your teeth more porous. Over time, this weakness in your enamel can lead to lesions and cavities.
In cases of fluorosis, the best thing to do is visit a dentist to have the spots removed. This is often done via an air abrasion, a resin infiltration system or topical remineralization therapy.
In some cases, white spots are caused by hypoplasia of the enamel. This happens when the enamel on your teeth is softer than normal, or when your teeth are producing a normal amount of enamel that is hypermineralized; this can happen on one tooth or multiple teeth.
Because enamel hypoplasia is a type of tooth defect, it's not something that can be fixed by dental treatment. For this reason, many treatments for the spots themselves are aesthetic. Minor cases of enamel hypoplasia can be treated by bonding or sealing the tooth or teeth, and with more severe cases, the affected teeth can be given crowns to protect them.
Minor cases can also be treated with dedicated oral hygiene, since enamel hypoplasia only makes your teeth more susceptible to decay and damage, not guaranteed to experience it.
White spots can often appear on your teeth after you've had braces, sometimes even if you've kept up with your cleanings and oral care. Brackets can result in a buildup of plaque, which subsequently results in decalcification. Plaque is not always permanent, especially if you catch it early and go to your dentist for a cleaning.
Decalcification from plaque is different than a buildup of calcium, like with fluorosis, but the end result can be the same; bacteria in plaque can weaken and eat away at your enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.
For more information, contact Dr. Chen & Associates or a similar organization.