What are the white spots on my teeth?

There can be a few reasons for white spots on the teeth. If this problem is very mild or mild, this can be caused by fluorosis, which is too much fluoride while teeth are developing from sources that include fluoride. Your dentist can be diagnosing the cause and if there is a treatment method available or cosmetic process available to help.

Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
White spots on your teeth are not always the same. White spots on your teeth can have different causes.
  • Hypocalcification -- Most white spots are formed during the time the tooth is developing inside of the jaw. The tooth may have been disturbed, or the some change in the body caused the enamel formation to be atypical. Usually you will notice these white spots on the adult front teeth or the first molars. The hypocalcifications, if very small and superficial, can sometimes be removed with microabrasion or the use of some other esthetic techniques. However, if they are large and opaque then it may be very difficult to remove.
  • Hypoplasia -- If the aberration in enamel development is severe enough then the teeth may not only have white spots but the shape of the enamel may be malformed and sometimes very soft and susceptible to chipping. 
  • Decalcification -- The beginning of a cavity can appear like a white chalky spot on the enamel. This is due to the plaque (bacteria) sitting on the teeth for long periods of time and releasing acids that decay the tooth. Patients that get braces and don't brush very well will sometimes see decalcification that forms around the braces.
  • Fluorosis -- This will occur if patients consume too much fluoride while the teeth are forming (Age 0-6). The excess fluoride in the diet intercalates into the enamel causing white or brown spots to form. In addition, fluorosis can cause surface abnormalities in the enamel.
The white spots on your teeth could be caused by several different dental problems, including:
  • enamel fluorosis, caused when you got too much fluoride from fluoridated water or toothpaste while your permanent teeth were developing in childhood
  • a dental cavity, which often has a chalky white appearance when it is just forming. 
  • enamel hypoplasia, or defects in the enamel coating your teeth, that can appear as white spots.                                                   
White spots may also appear after removal of braces.

See your dentist for a diagnosis and treatment options. 
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Polka-dotted teeth (the unintentional kind) are usually a sign of enamel breakdown and decalcification. Fluoride can be helpful in cleaning them up; they are often made worse by braces which allow plaque to accumulate. If they're making you uncomfortable, see your dentist for cosmetic options.
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.