White spots on teeth: why do they appear?

There are several causes that can cause white spots on the teeth. In this article we detail them and tell you how they can be solved.

Last update: 02 August, 2021

White spots on teeth they can appear for different reasons and are related to different factors. For those who wear them, they mean an aesthetic problem and many times, also an underlying condition.

In some cases, they are a sign that dental hygiene is failing, that bacterial plaque is accumulating and dental elements are losing their minerals. But other times they can be generated by other situations and in this article we will detail them.

Knowing its origin allows determining the treatment to be carried out. In most cases, they have a solution and the patient can return to wearing a beautiful smile. Read on to learn more about white spots on teeth.

What are white spots on teeth?

The white spots on the teeth are seen as a discoloration on the tooth enamel surface. They are seen as areas of a dry matte white appearance, which contrasts with the normal bright yellowish or grayish whitish of the tooth.

They are quite common and their appearance is related to several factors, being the lack of dental hygiene the most frequent cause. Excessive consumption of sugary foods, the onset of cavities, hypoplasias and fluorosis may be other reasons for its origin.

They can appear in both children and adults, in temporary and permanent dental elements. Its appearance is not only a health problem, but also an aesthetic one. Well, sometimes they cause insecurity and low self-esteem in the patient, who tries to hide his smile by the way his teeth look.

Being able to clarify the cause that originates the white spots on the teeth allows planning the appropriate treatment and taking the necessary measures to avoid the appearance of new lesions. Visiting the dentist when noticing any color change in the teeth is the most advisable thing to do.

White spots on teeth and their relationship with oral diseases

As we already anticipated, There are different reasons that cause white spots to appear on the teeth. Some are related to the time of tooth formation and others to external situations that cause oral affections that manifest with these lesions.

The white spots on the teeth are distinguished by their matte tone, unlike other colorations that respond to various causes, such as browns due to food.

Dental hypoplasias

The lesion is generated by a deficient and insufficient mineralization in the process of formation of the hard tissues of the tooth. It is an alteration that occurs during the development of the dental element, that is, in the mother's womb or in the first years of life.

There are several causes that can give rise to dental hypoplasia:

  • Problems during pregnancy: Having certain problems during pregnancy, when the baby's future teeth are forming, can alter their mineralization and cause hypoplasias. High fever, infections, maternal diseases, nutritional deficiencies or the intake of medications during pregnancy give rise to these alterations.
  • Problems in early childhood: Suffering certain conditions during the first years of life, when the teeth continue to form, also causes hypoplasias. Premature births, low birth weight, infections, high fevers, systemic diseases, malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies are some examples that can alter the mineralization of teeth.
  • Trauma: When a blow affects a dental piece of milk, it can injure the germ of the definitive tooth that is forming inside the bone through its root. This causes a hypoplasia in the permanent element.

White spots on teeth from fluorosis

Dental fluorosis is a pathology that occurs due to the excessive consumption of fluoride during the period of tooth formation. Exceeding the recommended daily doses for this mineral when teeth are developing is what causes the problem.

In some regions of the world, drinking water contains a high amount of the mineral and its consumption during the development of the dental elements can cause fluorosis. Using fluoride supplements when it is not necessary or the intake of fluoride in toothpastes with high concentrations can also be the origin.

Fluorosis manifests as white spots on the surface of the teeth. There are usually several teeth affected and they have a characteristic veining. In the most severe cases, the coloration is more brownish and imperfections, such as roughness and dimples, can also be observed on the dental crowns.

Dental caries

One of the most common causes of white spots on teeth is tooth decay. The onset of this disease manifests itself as a dull, dull, whitish coloration with a dry appearance.

It is caused by the loss of minerals from the enamel of the dental crown. This happens due to the action of the acids that bacteria produce when fermenting carbohydrates in the diet.

Therefore, this type of white spot is associated with poor dental hygiene and a diet rich in carbohydrates, especially foods rich in sugar. Well, this favors the formation and accumulation of the bacterial plaque that gives rise to cavities.

In general, this injury tends to go unnoticed by patients, so regular dental check-ups are essential. This stage of the disease is reversible and with the use of therapeutic fluoride the tooth can regain its health.

Decalcification of teeth

There are localized areas of loss and lack of calcium that manifest as white spots on the teeth. They can be caused by different reasons:

  • Dental erosion: Frequently exposing the surface of the teeth to the action of acids, sodas, soft drinks, citrus fruits or vinegars affects tooth enamel. Suffering from acid reflux can also alter the tooth surface.
  • Very traumatic dental hygiene practices: brushing your teeth too quickly, using too much pressure, using too much force, or using a brush with very stiff bristles on a frequent basis can wear down tooth enamel.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: the lack of sufficient nutrients and the prolonged periods of acidity in the oral environment favor the loss of minerals from the teeth.
  • Dry mouth: the lack of saliva favors the loss of minerals from the teeth.

White spots associated with the use of orthodontics

There is a relationship between orthodontic treatments with braces and the white spots on the teeth. Yes OK It is not the appliances that cause these defects in the teeth, Difficulty in maintaining proper dental hygiene often leads to the condition

When not properly sanitizing all areas of the mouth, bacterial plaque accumulates around the braces and under the bands. This results in a demineralization of the enamel that is seen as white spots on the teeth. In general, they become evident when the appliance is removed and should be treated at that time.

How are white spots on teeth removed?

As we already anticipated, it is necessary to determine the cause of the white spots on the teeth to decide which treatment to use to reverse them. Going to the dentist allows you to obtain an accurate diagnosis and plan the therapy indicated for each particular case.

Therapeutic fluoride

Fluoride used to treat white spots caused by descaling and the first stages of cavities. Applying the element locally on the teeth allows them to be remineralized.

The treatment is carried out by the dentist in the office, placing the fluoride on the tooth surface, allowing it to act for a while. It is presented in the form of gels, varnishes or foams that contain a high concentration of the mineral.

After placing the product, the dentist will instruct the patient not to eat, drink or rinse his mouth for a few hours. What's more, will indicate how often to repeat the applications to reverse the injury.

Dental microabrasion

This therapy is useful to treat superficial white spots. The procedure consists of polishing the affected tooth area with rotary instruments or special acids. The portion of the intervened tooth is then filled with composites the same color as the tooth.


Another way to remove stains from teeth is through the placement of fillings. They are used for larger and deeper stains.

Here the affected tissue must be removed with rotary instruments and a cavity must be left. It is filled with composites of the same tooth color that are joined through special adhesive systems.

The material that is used has a consistency similar to that of putty, allowing the dentist to mold it and give it the appearance they want. At the end, a special light is applied that hardens the material and then the filling is polished to give it the final finish.

Veneers or dental crowns

These options are considered for the most severe cases, when large areas are affected and the spots were caused by problems during development, such as hypoplasia and fluorosis. Veneers or crowns allow you to cover imperfections, giving a natural appearance to the teeth.

Veneers are characterized by being placed in the front portion of the tooth. Previously, a small wear should be done on the tooth to give it support. They are made of composite or porcelain, achieving optimal aesthetics.

Instead, crowns cover the entirety of the teeth, like a plug. It is also necessary to carve the teeth to place them, requiring greater wear.

To design them, the shape, color and size of the tooth are taken into account to be restored, so that they are personalized and adequately solve each particular case.

The veneers generate a concealment of the stain. It is a different method than crowns.

Prevention of white spots on teeth

Some white spots on the teeth cannot be avoided, but most are preventable by practicing some of the following tips:

  • Proper dental hygiene: avoiding the accumulation of bacterial plaque prevents the loss of minerals from the teeth. Thoroughly brushing your teeth three times a day, flossing, fluoride toothpaste, and supplementing with mouthwashes are essential. Patients with braces They should pay special attention to the meticulous hygiene of their mouth, trying to reach all areas of the oral cavity.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of fluoride: Knowing the levels of fluoride in drinking water, avoiding using supplements containing the mineral without medical advice, and using the right amount of toothpaste for each age will prevent fluorosis in children.
  • Healthy nutrition: Eating a balanced and nutritious diet avoids the lack of minerals that could cause decalcification of the teeth. Avoiding processed, acidic, and high-sugar foods will also help decrease the risk of white spots on your teeth.
  • Visit the dentist regularly: Frequent consultation with the dentist allows detecting any problem in time to treat it in a timely manner. Professional cleanings and advice from your dentist help control plaque and keep your mouth healthy.

Take care of the smile

Having white spots on your teeth is not only an oral health problem. It also affects the aesthetics of the person, which can cause self-esteem and security problems.

Avoiding white spots and having beautiful teeth is possible with certain care. With healthy practices and regular visits to the dentist, smiling will not be a problem for you.

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