White spots on your teeth can occur from primarily two conditions – Hypoplasia and Hypomineralization – both of which affect the way that a tooth’s enamel forms. Normal enamel is white and very hard, while these conditions can cause enamel to look like white spots or even yellow or brown. In addition to this teeth discoloration being unsightly, these conditions can also lead to sensitivity and further dental issues . Therefore, if you notice these white spots, it’s important to talk with your dentist about treatment.
Hypoplasia vs. Hypomineralization
Enamel Hypoplasia is a tooth defect in which a person has a tooth or teeth with enamel that is thin and less than normal. This condition is usually a result of genetics, prenatal problems, or illnesses or trauma in early childhood while enamel is being formed. People with Enamel Hypoplasia often have pits on the surface of their tooth as they don’t have enough enamel to make then smooth.
Hypomineralization is a result of the enamel on a tooth not mineralizing as much as a healthy tooth. This causes the enamel to be more porous and often rough, allowing for food, bacteria and plaque to penetrate more easily. Like Enamel Hypoplasia, Hypomineralization can be caused by an early childhood illness or trauma or poor bacterial control during orthodontic treatment.
Both conditions can raise a person’s risk for tooth sensitivity and further tooth decay, therefore it’s important that these conditions are treated early by a dentist.
As noted, if either condition is seen, especially in children, it’s important to see your dentist early and regularly for evaluation and recommended treatment. Treatments for Hypoplasia and Hypomineralization can include:
- Prescription Pastes that help to re-mineralize the teeth and fill the small holes to prevent further decay
- Sealants, Bonding or Crowns in order to provide protection to the tooth
- Dental Implants – in extreme cases, dental implants may be necessary to replace the entire tooth
If you do notice white spots on your children’s teeth or if you notice them developing on your own teeth (although uncommon, it can occur in adults too), early recognition and treatment will help to protect the teeth and prevent further damage.