White spot lesion and orthodontics
White spot lesions are extremely common. They are the start of a cavity the never quit formed. The enamel has become demineralized and you get a chalky look to your teeth. Many people will get them naturally, but one of the biggest causes I see is braces. Post orthodontic treatment studies show up to 50% patients will have white spot lesions after their braces come off. They will often be seen as a ring around where the bracket was. This area was the hardest to keep clean when wearing braces. Plaque had accumlulated around the bracekt and wasn’t removed effectively thus causing the lesion to form. While prevention is ideal and can be done, few people will likely be reading this except those looking to fix white spot lesions that have already occurred. Thus the following information will have treatment options first and preventative information later.
Treatment options for a white spot lesion
There are several methods that attempt to remineralize or hide the areas that are non-invasive. They don’t work well or consistently enough to be considered useful to me. Kalha’s lit review below agrees. I discuss all the literature supported options anyway.
Resin infiltration creates more natural color than sodium fluoride (NaF) and casein phosphopeptide amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP or commercially MI paste). Yuan Angle Ortho 2014 I have no doubt this is true as the NaF and CPP-ACP are more preventive in nature. However, this fact should be taken with a grain of salt as few dentists provide this service. I personally have found it unpredictable and thus do not offer it.
Casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate products appear to benefit regression of white spot lesions associated with orthodontic treatment but the evidence is limited. EDB 2016 Hani Bergstrand 2011
Whitening teeth with a white spot lesion
You may notice that when bleaching your teeth the white spot lesions get VERY WHITE. This is due to dehydration of the area. Once the area rehydrates they will look “normal” again. Normal meaning the area of the tooth will look the same as it did before you whitened it. You can not whiten your natural teeth enough to hide these lesion. Whitening will help a little if you have teeth that are stained or yellow.
Prevention of white spot lesions
Factors include home care, topical fluoride regimens, and diet.
Daily use of the higher dose fluoride toothpaste of 5000 ppm, compared to standard adult strength of 1450 ppm fluoride, does reduce number of white spot lesions from 27% of patients to 18%. Sonesson Eur J Ortho 2014
6 week fluoride varnish treatment appears to decrease risk systemic review Cheng JADA Sept 15
While fluoride varnish does decrease amount of lesions in most people, those with excellent oral hygiene have no statistical benefit. Perrini 2016 AJO-DO