Although there are plenty of books that explain what to expect when you find yourself in the family way, there really is no definitive parenting manual, and kids don’t come with individual instructions. As a result, parents often find themselves dealing with situations for which they are ill-prepared.
You might think you’re doing pretty good with feeding, bathing, and diapering your infant. Then, just when you’re getting a handle on things, your little go-getter starts walking, talking, and eating solid foods with his tiny baby teeth. Now you’re chasing him all over the house and trying to figure out how to brush and floss his teeth.
The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Other parents and professionals like your pediatrician can offer helpful advice about parenting your child as he grows and develops, and you can turn to your child’s dentist for advice about how to maintain good oral health and teach your child proper oral hygiene as he becomes old enough to manage it on his own.
That said, you may still be confronted by unexpected issues, like the appearance of white spots on your child’s teeth. What are these spots and what causes them? Are they permanent? Are they cause for concern? You can always contact your child’s dentist with concerns, but here’s what you need to know about the formation of white spots on your child’s teeth.
Enamel Hypoplasia In some cases, children are prone to teeth erupting with white spots already on them. This is a condition known as enamel hypoplasia and it is characterized by white, yellow, or brownish spots that form during tooth development. Spots simply indicate areas of the tooth that are less mineralized, and they are generally harmless in and of themselves.
The only caveat here is that these areas could be more susceptible to staining and decay, so it’s important to practice proper oral hygiene with your child in order to ensure no harm is done. Your child’s dentist will likely keep an eye on enamel hypoplasia to prevent tooth decay, but this is not a condition that will spread. When baby teeth are lost, permanent teeth may or may not come in with enamel hypoplasia.
Tooth Decay In children, tooth decay often presents first as white spots, often situated near the gum line. This is not the same as the yellowing associated with plaque or tartar formation. Instead, decay will appear as a milky or chalky white color on teeth, which will eventually turn to brown as the decay advances.
The good news is that this provides an early warning sign for parents, which means you can take action to halt the advance of tooth decay. Contact your dentist to schedule a visit as soon as possible. Your dentist can clean your child’s teeth, clearing away any existing plaque that could be to blame.
From there, your dentist might recommend mild fluoride treatment to strengthen enamel, and you will certainly need to go over your child’s oral hygiene regimen to ensure that you’re doing all you can to clean teeth, preserve good oral health, and prevent future issues with decay. You may also want to discuss diet to make sure your child is getting the right foods and beverages for healthy teeth, since oral health concerns in childhood can impact adult teeth as they come in.
Fluorosis This is not a common condition among children because parents these days are generally aware of the risk factors associated with giving children too much fluoride. Still you need to keep a close eye on what your child ingests. Many small children like to swallow toothpaste, so you might want to look for a product that is fluoride-free if your child’s teeth are otherwise healthy and strong.
You should also find out if the water in your area is fluoridated. If so, you may want to start using water filtration in your home to cut down on the amount of fluoride your child receives. Fluoridated water is generally considered safe for consumption, but if your child is suffering from the smattering of white spots indicating fluorosis, you’ll need to take steps to cut back on fluoride ingestion. Any time you see noticeable changes in your child’s teeth, it’s best to consult with your dentist for guidance and treatment as needed.