I Have White Spots on My Teeth.  Can I Still Whiten?

Teeth whitening has become widely available both over-the-counter and through your dentist with professional products.  If you have noticeable or visible white spots on the teeth, there are some important things for you to know before you attempt any type of teeth whitening.  In this week’s blog, we’ll explain what causes those white spots and what you can do about them.

Why Do I Have White Spots?

There are a few different causes of white spots on the teeth, and it is important to know which one applies to you.  Some white spots are present even in healthy enamel, and others indicate the beginning of the cavity process (and thus indicate disease).

Fluorosis

Fluorosis is a condition in which the teeth receive too much fluoride as they are undergoing formation.  This can occur when there is a high level of fluoride in the ground and therefore in the local drinking water.  Municipal water supplies monitor and adjust the level of fluoride closely, so this would only happen if you were drinking unregulated water such as that from a private well.

Fluorosis often results in white splotches on the teeth.  In severe cases, the splotches can also be dark brown in color.  A chalky or splotchy look to the teeth is common. 

Defect during Enamel Formation

As the teeth are forming, a disruption in that process can result in a white spot or spots on the teeth.  Your dentist can diagnose this by assessing exactly where and on which teeth the white spots occur to determine if this was a potential cause.  The teeth do not all form at exactly the same time, so this condition would not affect all teeth. 

Demineralization

Demineralization is the first step in the cavity process.  The bacteria living in dental plaque ingest simple carbohydrates and produce acid.  As that plaque remains on the enamel surface, the acid it contains softens and weakens the enamel, removing important minerals and leaving a white, chalky spot behind. 

If nothing changes or intervenes, demineralization will continue to progress into a full blown cavity.

What Will Happen to the White Spots When I Whiten My Teeth?

Typically, if you undertake teeth whitening with white spots on your teeth, the white spots will also whiten.  In most cases, this will make them appear even more obvious than they were before.  This is because, initially, all of the tooth structure will whiten simultaneously.  The whole tooth will get whiter, including the white spots.

The good news is that eventually, the surrounding tooth structure will catch up to the white spots.  You must continue whitening through that initial phase, understanding that the white spots will first become more noticeable, and then the color will eventually even out.

How Can I Improve the Appearance of my Smile?

We do recommend teeth whitening when the white spots are not the first stage of cavities forming.  And if they are, we can help you stop that process prior to any whitening.  After you undergo a regimen of teeth whitening, we will monitor you closely to evaluate the progress your teeth make. 

If you are happy with the color of the surrounding tooth structure and still unhappy with the appearance of the white spots, we can discuss your other cosmetic options.

Some people do not achieve the evenness of color they would like on their teeth through teeth whitening alone.  For those, we will often recommend minimally invasive composite veneers or porcelain veneers to cover over the teeth and create the exact color you desire.

More Questions about White Spots or Teeth Whitening?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 today to schedule a whitening consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and Dr. Summer.  They can answer any questions you have about teeth whitening and assess your specific situation to determine whether we should have any special considerations.  We love helping our patients achieve a beautiful white smile that they love to show off!

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