Have you noticed white spots on your child’s teeth? Numerous factors can lead to white spots or discoloration on the teeth. Among these are illnesses and infections, vitamin deficiencies, excessive fluoride, and even trauma to the teeth. In many instances, these white spots are not harmful to their teeth, but they can make your child feel self-conscious. Our pediatric dentist can examine any white spots or discoloration on your child’s teeth to determine how best to improve their appearance.
Demineralization or decalcification
Demineralization, or decalcification, is the result of excessive and long-term bacterial buildup in the mouth. The bacteria attack the enamel, causing it to deteriorate. When the enamel wears away, white or brown spots may appear on the teeth. This type of discoloration can lead to cavities, so your child’s pediatric dentist will need to check their teeth at each dental appointment.
Enamel that is demineralizing or decalcifying is typically monitored. Other than brushing and flossing more frequently, if there is no decay present, no treatment is required. Children should brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day to prevent excess bacteria buildup. Should a cavity form in the discolored area, restoring the tooth will be recommended.
Teeth can develop white or brown spots as a result of enamel hypoplasia. The symptoms usually appear in childhood, but they can also appear in adults. Numerous factors contribute to this condition, including inadequate nutrition, high fevers from illness, smoking during pregnancy, and premature birth. Some medications and trauma to the teeth can also cause enamel hypoplasia. Children with enamel hypoplasia are at an increased risk of decay in areas with white spots, so it is recommended to carefully watch those areas.
Unless enamel hypoplasia is causing areas of tooth decay, it does not need to be treated. For children who are self-conscious about their appearance, teeth whitening, microabrasion, which involves removing a thin layer of discolored enamel, and veneers, which are thin wafers bonded over the affected teeth, can help reduce the visibility of the spots.
Fluorosis is common in children, but if left untreated, it may still be visible in adulthood. Fluorosis is caused by excessive fluoride exposure. Fluoride strengthens teeth, but too much of it can cause white, brown, or yellow spots. Most commonly, this occurs when fluoride is ingested from fluoridated water, fluoride-containing vitamin supplements, and toothpaste.
Treatment options for fluorosis are similar to those for enamel hypoplasia, which include microabrasion, bleaching if the stains are yellow or brown, or having a porcelain veneer adhered to the surface of the tooth to hide the staining and discoloration.
Our pediatric dentist can examine your child’s teeth to determine the cause of tooth discoloration and recommend a treatment plan. Your child may only require a dental cleaning if their teeth are simply stained. In some situations, we may be able to improve the appearance of your child’s smile with teeth whitening, microabrasion, and, in some situations, porcelain veneers if they have fluorosis or enamel hypoplasia. If your child has decalcified areas on their tooth enamel, our pediatric dentist can suggest ways to improve their at-home oral hygiene routine and monitor the areas for signs of tooth decay.