tooth decalcification

Also known as white scars, decalcification is the result of minerals loss from your teeth.  White scars or spots are a common after-effect following orthodontic treatment. It occurs when the process of tooth remineralization is disrupted. Left untreated, decalcification may lead to gingivitis or cavities.

The areas most commonly affected by decalcification are those between your gums and the orthodontic brackets where it is most difficult to remove plaque. 

Causes Of Tooth Decalcification

Enamel erosion occurs when your tooth interacts with acids coming from the foods and drinks you consume when they come into contact with mouth bacteria, particularly if you are using orthodontic devices, especially permanent retainers.

There are several other causes of white spots or decalcification. These include poor dental hygiene, especially when someone is wearing power chain braces, or eating too many acidic or sugary foods. Drinks with high acid content also increase your susceptibility to white spots.

Stages Of Tooth Decalcification

Tooth decalcification or white spots as are a common dental concern. They can occur in stages.

Dental Fluorosis

People usually get white spots when they are still young if they were consuming too much fluoride. This is normally a harmless dental condition and it develops before the child’s teeth have broken through the gums.

Enamel Hypoplasia

This occurs when the teeth enamel doesn’t form or develop properly. Similar to fluorosis, enamel hypoplasia only happens during childhood when the teeth are still in their development stage. It can, however, increase the tooth decay risk.

Carious Lesions

The emergence of a chalky white spot on your tooth is one of the earliest indications of a carious lesion, meaning enamel decalcification has set in. This stage of decalcification is visible before any cavitation takes place. It can be reversed through saliva induced remineralization.

How To Get Rid Of White Spots?

Several approaches can be used to assist in eliminating white spots. The best procedure, however, will depend on how severe your condition is and how far it has progressed as well as the treatment costs.

Microabrasion: This is a dental procedure that entails gently removing a thin layer of a tooth’s surface enamel, thus improving the look of your teeth. This treatment can only be performed by an orthodontic and is typically followed by another procedure, teeth bleaching.

Teeth Bleaching: Also known as tooth whitening, it uses bleaching to help balance the color of the enamel. Several teeth whitening products can be used such as pastes and strips 

Porcelain Veneers: Veneers are a good option when your teeth have considerable discoloration patches that bleaching alone cannot eliminate. These are custom fabricated veneers made using thin layers of ceramic material and are bonded to your teeth.

Preventing Decalcification

While decalcification cannot really be fully reversed when it has occurred, it can be reduced. White spots are the initial indication of the onset of dental fluorosis. If detected early enough by a dentist and a suitable prevention procedure is initiated, it can be halted. It is then most likely to improve over time.

The best way of preventing tooth decalcification is through keeping them free of plaque. The most effective method is by using a good electric toothbrush for orthodontic care and to keep on flossing regularly (preferably with a Waterpik or an oral irrigator). When brushing, ensure the focus is on those areas that are usually obstructed by your orthodontic devices such as brackets and wires.

Carefully follow the aftercare instructions from your dentist. Along with good dental care, ensure that you use water that is fluoride free. Eat foods that are rich in calcium, low in sugar and acids. Stay away from sodas as they build plaque fast.

Conclusion

Although many people may view white spots as undesirable, from a medical point of view, they are rarely a cause of serious concern. They do however mar the beauty of your teeth and smile and removing or reducing them is desirable.

Although a visit to your dentist will help, the long-term fix is to institute some changes in your diet. Eat foods that are calcium-rich, lots of Vitamin C and take good care of your oral hygiene.

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.