The most important thing to know about white marks on teeth is that they are preventable. All you have to do to be white mark-free is to keep teeth clean and stay away from some foods and beverages. It’s that simple.
When we say simple, we mean four easy steps simple:
- 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
- Avoid or limit acidic foods and drinks (soda, flavored waters with carbonation, sweet tea, sports drinks etc.) for the duration of your treatment
- See your family 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 can make cleaning teeth convenient, quick and, most of all, thorough. Fluoride toothpaste and/or rinses are advisable, too.
A White Mark Is Permanent
A white mark on a tooth – known as decalcification – is the very beginning of a cavity. Prompted by a build-up of plaque, calcium and other minerals leach out tooth enamel and leave a permanent white mark behind. It can progress to a full-blown cavity if plaque keeps collecting.
Plaque is made of bacteria, food particles and saliva. It feeds on sugars to form an acid that damages teeth. Poor brushing, frequent snacking and intake of sugary and/or acidic beverages contribute to white marks and decay.
Decalcification Can Happen to Patients Using Aligners
It happens to those who drink flavored waters, sparkling water, sports drinks or soda pop with their aligners in. What’s more, it can happen in a matter of weeks. Always take aligners out to eat or drink (except for tap water), and clean teeth thoroughly to remove all traces of food or beverages.
One more thing – decalcification can also happen if patients do not brush their aligners. Food and bacteria left in the aligners can sit on the teeth and cause decalcification.
Decalcification Can Happen Independent of Orthodontic Treatment
Some people get white marks on their teeth without ever having orthodontic treatment. The marks are caused by too much soda pop or other acidic drinks, along with poor brushing habits.
For A Happy Ending
Patients who are conscientious about caring for their teeth and who limit sugary, acidic foods and drinks should not develop white marks.
Cleaning teeth is not hard. It just takes a commitment to putting in a little extra time, a little extra elbow grease, and using the right tools for the job. Questions? Your orthodontist and his/her staff would be delighted for you to ask! Like you, they want your treatment result to be a healthy, beautiful smile you will both be proud of.
See an AAO Orthodontist
When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a highly skilled specialist. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possess the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org/locator