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What Are these White Spots?

By Nick Baumann, DDS

If you have white spots on your teeth and ever wondered why they are there or what can be done about them, you are not alone. These white spots, called demineralization, can cause some to be self-conscious about their smile. Luckily, advancements in technology have made this condition much easier to treat noninvasively and without pain.

Our teeth are mainly composed of calcium and phosphate. When minerals are stripped from the teeth, these areas become more porous and can start to have irregular areas of demineralization that most people would call “white spots.” There are a number of things that can cause this including diets high in sugar or acid, developmental abnormalities of the tooth, fluorosis during tooth development, or poor oral hygiene. Often, the spots can occur around braces during orthodontic treatment since it is more difficult to clean around the brackets. Since these spots are more porous, they can be susceptible to decay and cavities, so it is important to have them evaluated by a dentist.

So, what can be done? Traditionally, remineralization can be attempted by using a paste with a high amount of calcium and phosphate. The teeth can soak up these minerals and reverse the damage. This treatment can work in some cases but is not successful all the time. It also can take a long time to do so and relies on good patient compliance. Another more invasive option is to remove the demineralized area and place a filling over it. This is the most aggressive approach and usually only recommended as a last resort. 

A newer procedure that is very exciting to help repair white spots is called the ICON procedure. A dentist who does the procedure can actively re-mineralize these lesions in as little as under an hour, and no anesthesia or drilling is required. This procedure improves the structural integrity of the tooth as well as the esthetic appearance. This is a great option for someone who has not had success with other options. More information on this procedure can be found at www.drilling-no-thanks.info.

If you are concerned about white spots on your teeth, the first step is to reach out to your dentist to see what your options might be. Treatment may be much easier than you think. Knowing your choices can allow you to make the best decision to give you a happy, confident smile.

Dr. Nick is with Palm Desert Smiles and can be reached at (760) 568.3602.  

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