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What is that “white patch” on my teeth?

Posted Jul 24 2010 8:52am


If you have ever looked close enough, some of you may find some “white patches” on your teeth. Interestingly, many of my patients start to notice it after some cosmetic dental treatment has begun, eg braces or tooth bonding.

The fact is, the “white patch” has always been there when the tooth erupted. It is commonly a case of increased awareness. Do not worry, it is not decay in case you are thinking you may have dental caries.

The condition is called ” fluorosis” and is the result of increased intake of fluoride taken during the time the tooth is forming. It can appear as white or brown stains on the teeth. Defects can range from a small white spot, to gross disfigurement with brown stains and pits.

In normal doses (typically found in a safe drinking water system and approved toothpaste), fluoride is a healthy compound that promotes strong teeth, which has the ability to reduce decay and other problems.

But sometimes, dental  fluorosis occurs when fluoride-containing toothpastes or rinses are swallowed, instead of expelled. It can also happen when there are high doses of fluoride in the drinking water system.

In essence, fluorosis can cause a number of aesthetic problems, including abnormally darkened or stained teeth. While such problems are generally harmless to your health, they can create concerns with your appearance.

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