Have you ever wondered what those little white spots, lines or circles are on your or your child’s teeth? They are probably areas of enamel decalcification. Decalcification occurs when the tooth starts to begin developing a cavity, but the decay process is halted. Sometimes decalcified areas even appear as brown spots that are otherwise completely healthy.
Decalcification is caused by small amounts of plaque resting along the tooth for an extended period of time. If the plaque is not fully removed each day, the bacteria begin to cause the enamel to demineralize and start the decay process. The plaque is then brushed or flossed away, leaving a scarred appearance on the tooth.
Where are some areas that decalcification is usually seen? Take teenagers as an example. Many teens undergo orthodontic therapy but some may not care for their oral hygiene properly. Small amounts of plaque begin to accumulate around each of the orthodontic brackets. If this is not brushed off each day, a pattern of small circles begins to develop across their smile, around each bracket on each tooth. When their braces are removed you can see these areas very easily, and they are difficult to reverse without cosmetic dental therapy. Another area where you will see lines of demineralization is on maturing adult teeth. When children’s permanent teeth erupt, they may not have the best oral hygiene. Because these teeth slowly erupt into the mouth, there may be lines along the teeth from when the child didn’t brush well when those teeth were erupting.
How can you prevent decalcification? Supplemental fluoride use from a prescription gel or in an over the counter mouthwash can help prevent and reverse enamel decalcification in it’s early stages. Using an electric toothbrush along with other oral hygiene aids can better help you remove plaque before it causes the enamel to decalcify.
Posted on behalf of Grateful Dental
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