White spots are one of the first signs of tooth decay in children. They often appear along the gumline and are usually like a chalky appearance. If the decay continues, these spots will eventually change to brown or yellow.
What causes white spots on my child’s teeth?
White spots can occur for several reasons. Since teeth form in the womb, those white spots might be a genetic issue, not something external following your child’s birth. A visit with your kid’s dentist will help to determine if the spots are due to something you can control.
White spots can be from a mineral imbalance, excessive fluoride, certain medications, or active dental decay. Another problem causing stain or spotting on baby teeth can be due to a very common development called enamel hypoplasia. This can appear to be white, yellow, or brown in color.
Pediatric dentistry offers answers and solutions; if white spots have appeared on baby teeth and been diagnosed as decay, repairing the decay will allow your dentist to make corrections using a tooth colored resin material. Decay can occur if your child’s teeth are not brushed frequently and correctly. Plaque that remains on teeth can eventually penetrate dental enamel, forming a cavity.
If baby teeth were not spotted, but your child’s permanent teeth develop discoloration or white spots, the primary consideration might be excessive fluoride. Permanent teeth start forming at around age three, so if the child receives fluoride supplements, dental stain might be attributed to fluorosis. Unless a child lives in an area where water is not fluoridated, supplements are usually not needed.
If you bring your child to their dentist with white spots, an exam will be done following an interview, so the dental provider has enough background information to ascertain why spotting has developed. Tooth deterioration can occur if the problem is due to decalcified enamel.
Permanent teeth can be treated with a tooth colored bonding material to blend away stain if the issue is purely cosmetic. Since primary teeth will be lost over time, treating them cosmetically is usually not dictated. But as your child grows, their self-esteem can be impacted if dental stain remains on permanent teeth.
Caring for your child’s teeth will have a life-long impact on your child’s dental and overall health. Caring for their dental health requires persistence, instruction, and hands-on care until your child is coordinated and responsible enough to brush and floss on their own.
In addition to brushing and flossing, pediatric dentistry can provide the tools and treatment to maintain your child’s excellent oral health which will serve them well for their lifetime.
Article on American Pediatric Society Journal. August 5, 2016
About The Writer
DR. JOYCELYN FRANCES ESGUERRA, Dentist
Dr. Esguerra is the dental and oral healthcare expert of Wyeth Nutrition parenTeam. Having run a private clinic for more than 20 years now, Dr. Joycelyn Esguerra has developed an expertise in orthodontics, TMJ orthopedics, cosmetic dentistry, and biological dentistry. As a dentist, her work has included educating patients on oral care, assessing teeth and diagnosing patients' dental conditions, evaluating treatment options and providing treatment plans to patients, and carrying out clinical treatments such as restoring teeth affected by decay and treating gum disease.
Dr. Esguerra received her degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine from the College of Dentistry at the University of the East in Manila. She also completed a 6-month long comprehensive preceptorship program on Functional Jaw Orthopedics and TMJ Dentistry at the TMJ Integrative Dentistry Academy of the Philippines.
An active member of the medical community, she has served the Mandaluyong City Dental Chapter in various roles, including President, Executive Vice President, and Board of Director. Dr. Esguerra is also part of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) and the TMJ Integrative Academy of the Philippines.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and do not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.