Tooth discoloration is not always dark in color. Sometimes, white spots can appear on teeth for a few different reasons. The formation of a white spot can be the result of childhood exposure to certain antibiotics, calculus deposits, and the early stages of tooth decay. While some white spots can be purely cosmetic, there are some instances where our dentist should treat a white spot. For instance, tooth decay must be treated professionally or it will continue to deepen into the tooth.
How are white spots a sign of decay?
A white spot can be a sign of tooth decay when the enamel surface of teeth is so damaged that the dentin layer of tooth structure is exposed to harmful oral bacteria in the mouth. Dentin is a soft, very white part of tooth structure. When enamel is damaged, its white color will be more visible. Over time, however, the area of decay will darken as the cavity deepens.
What causes tooth decay?
A combination of damage to tooth enamel and certain stains of oral bacteria leads to the formation of cavities. Tooth enamel is a mineralized coating that surrounds teeth above the surface of the gums. Although very strong, enamel can become damaged by tooth wear and repeated exposure to strong acids. When enamel is damaged, softer areas of the tooth are exposed to cavity-causing bacteria. A cavity is the result of harmful oral bacteria eating through the unprotected parts of a tooth.
How is tooth decay treated?
Once a cavity forms, the tooth must be treated professionally by a dentist to prevent further complications. A tooth is unable to regenerate new tissue to heal itself and therefore, it will only become more diseased as time passes without professional intervention. Cavities are treated with restorations. A restoration can be quite small or extensive, depending on a patient’s unique needs. For instance, small areas of decay are treated with a filling while decay that is more extensive might require a custom restoration like an onlay or dental crown.
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