What do white spots on your teeth mean?

Otherwise clean and seemingly healthy, teeth that have white spots or discoloration could be a sign of hypocalcification, a condition that affects the enamel of the teeth and could impact the strength and structural integrity of your teeth. 

What is Hypocalcification? 

Hypocalcification is a dental condition characterized by white spots, discoloration or stains that appear as a result of dissolved calcium in the tooth enamel. Teeth may appear normal, healthy and clean without too much plaque buildup but may be lacking sufficient calcium that could cause issues down the road.

What causes Hypocalcification? 

Generally, this can occur due to acidic conditions in the mouth, or a genetic condition known as amelogenesis imperfecta where tooth enamel doesn’t fully develop in adult teeth or even from insufficient amount of minerals in early in life. Diet and other health issues that lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also be a factor. 

How is it treated?

Since the structural integrity of the teeth can be affected by the loss of calcium associated with hypocalcification it’s crucial that you get checked out by a dentist as soon as you notice signs like white spots, discoloration or stains. In more severe cases, to strengthen the teeth your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments, a bonding tool like glass ionomer cements to cover the discolorations or a crown to encapsulate the affected tooth. In mild cases of hypocalcification, calcium replenishing toothpastes or in-office or even at-home bleaching may be recommended to lighten discoloration for a more even look. 

Preventing Hypocalcification

Practicing good dental hygiene habits is usually the first step in preventing dental issues, and hypocalcification. That means flossing daily, brushing at least twice a day and regular checkups with your dentist. 

Nutrition is also very important. Healthy whole foods in a balanced diet that provide sufficient vitamins and minerals are critical for dental health as well as overall health. 

The flip side of that coin is avoiding sugary and overly acidic foods, or at least consuming in moderation. 

Regular dental checkups are important not only for discovering the signs of hypocalcification but also because regular dental care and flouride treatments are typically your best defense against dental disease and conditions because ongoing care keeps your teeth healthy and strong. 

So, if you’re beginning to notice signs of calcification or hypocalcification make an appointment with Dr. Ed Monroe at our A Lifetime of Smiles office in LaSalle, IL.