In our previous orthodontics blog, we discussed the life-changing effects of a beautiful, long-lasting smile and a good, functional bite. A beautiful smile is not a smile with just straight teeth but one with healthy teeth as well.
During and after treatment, we may notice white, dull marks on our teeth. This may happen particularly often to people with braces and can be very noticeable on the portions of the teeth surrounding the brackets, especially between the brace and the gums. Those marks are called “white spots.”
What are white spots?
A white spot, or “decalcification” by its medical term, is the very beginning of a cavity. It starts by the build up of plaque, which, in turn, is a sticky, white or pale yellow film that accumulates along our gum line and between our teeth when we don’t brush them or we brush them insufficiently.
Dental plaque is made of bacteria, food particles and saliva. Bacteria love to grow on teeth! They feed on sugars to form an acid that damages teeth by slowly “eating away” their enamel. The first sign of this process is in the breakdown of enamel resulting in a white spot. Poor brushing techniques let the bacteria continue to flourish, which can turn white spots into a full-blown cavity.
What are important things to know about white spots?
- They are permanent. They can be reduced but they will always leave a scar. If caught early, good oral hygiene and fluoride can allow minerals to rebuild on the enamel and protect it, however the white mark remains.
- They can happen to people wearing braces because bracesand other glued-on dental appliances can make it more difficult to brush well.
- They can happen to people wearing clear aligners. Plaque can build up on teeth and on aligners. Always take aligners out to eat or drink (except for tap water), and clean teeth thoroughly to remove all traces of food or beverages.
- They can happen independent of orthodontic treatment. After all, it’s always plaque and poor brushing techniques that cause them and not orthodontic appliances.
What it is the best thing to know about white spots?
They are totally preventable! Here is what you can do to prevent them:
- Keep your teeth clean!
- Avoid sugary, acidic foods and drinks, such as pop, sugary coffee drinks, energy drinks, etc. Make sure you brush well, after you consume them.
- Brush as often as recommended by your orthodontist, including after each meal or snack whether at school, work or home.
- Floss at least once a day.
- See your dentist at least every four to six months for a check-up or more often if it’s recommended.
Handy tools like interproximal brushes, floss threaders, floss holders, water irrigators and power toothbrushes could make teeth cleaning easier and more thorough. Fluoride toothpaste and/or rinses are advisable, too. Taking care of your smile should be important. Let us be part of the team that gives you a smile you can trust and believe in!
Do you have questions about how to best take care of your braces? We can answer your questions to keep your teeth and gums healthy – schedule a free consultation! Contact us online at or call 216-325-0822 opt 4.