A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Managing White Spot Lesions During Orthodontic Treatment

As a parent considering orthodontic treatment for your child, you may be concerned about potential problems, such as white spot lesions on their teeth.

These unsightly spots can often develop during orthodontic treatment. Research has found that the prevalence of white spot lesions in patients undergoing orthodontic treatment with fixed appliances ranged from 2.96% to 96.1%, with an average of around 46.6% of patients experiencing at least one.

Understandably the likelihood of your child incurring white spot lesions can be unnerving and cause anxiety, since you want your child’s smile to be healthy and beautiful.

But the good news is that these spots can be prevented and treated.

With that in mind, let’s discuss some practical strategies to prevent and manage white spot lesions during and post-orthodontic treatment, whether your child is expecting to have braces or other orthodontic appliances fitted.

But first, it’s worth explaining what white spot lesions are.

What Are White Spot Lesions (WSLs)?

White spot lesions (WSLs) are an early sign of tooth enamel demineralization, which can lead to dental decay if not addressed. They appear as chalky white spots on the tooth surface and are more common during orthodontic treatment, especially with fixed orthodontic appliances (FOAs) such as braces.

These lesions occur when dental plaque accumulates on the tooth surface for an extended period. Plaque is a sticky biofilm composed of bacteria, food particles, and saliva. The bacteria in plaque feed on sugars from food and drinks, producing acids that dissolve minerals from the tooth enamel. This demineralization results in the formation of WSLs.

During orthodontic treatment, maintaining good oral hygiene can be more challenging due to the presence of brackets, wires, or other appliances, making it easier for plaque to accumulate and increasing the risk of developing WSLs.

So what can parents and children receiving orthodontic treatment do to help prevent and manage the development of WSLs?

White Spot Lesion Prevention and Management Strategies During Orthodontic Treatment

There are several preventative steps and management strategies that can be taken to help minimize the risk of developing WSLs, including:

Fluoride Therapy

Fluoride therapy is an excellent way to help protect your child’s teeth from WSLs during orthodontic treatment.

You can significantly reduce the risk of developing these spots by using high-fluoride toothpaste and fluoride varnishes. Additionally, incorporating fluoride mouthwashes into your child’s oral hygiene routine can provide extra protection.

Over half a century of research has shown that fluoride toothpastes are effective in preventing dental issues in children and adolescents, making them a valuable tool in the fight against WSLs.

Oral Hygiene Education and Reinforcement

Teaching your child the importance of proper oral hygiene is essential for preventing WSLs during orthodontic treatment.

Encouraging good habits, such as regular tooth brushing, can make a significant difference in keeping their teeth healthy. While electric brushes may seem like the go-to option for a thorough cleaning, studies have found that multi-tufted manual brushes can actually be more effective in some cases.

For instance, brushes designed with a V-cut help ensure contact with the tooth surface adjacent to brackets. At the same time, those with firmer inner bristles and soft outer bristles can effectively clean the gum line and outer areas of the tooth surface.

In addition to brushing, flossing and routine dental visits are crucial for maintaining oral health.

By emphasizing the importance of these practices and providing the necessary tools, you can help your child maintain excellent oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment, preventing the development of WSLs and ensuring a bright, beautiful smile.

Dietary Counseling

Dietary counseling plays an influential role in preventing WSLs during orthodontic treatment.

By providing guidance on a balanced diet and encouraging healthy snacking, you can help reduce the risk of these pesky spots developing on your child’s teeth. It’s important to limit the intake of fermentable carbohydrates, such as sugars and refined starches, as they can contribute to the formation of WSLs.

Research has shown that combining a fluoride therapy program alongside a mindful diet can significantly decrease the chances of white spot formation during orthodontic treatment. Therefore, by fostering good dietary habits and maintaining proper oral hygiene, you can help your child achieve a healthy and radiant smile.

White Spot Lesion Management Post-Treatment

While you and your child may make every effort to prevent lesions during orthodontic treatment, sometimes they occur.

If they don’t respond to initial management strategies, such as fluoride therapy, several post-treatment options are available to address WSLs that don’t respond to remineralization efforts. They include:

  1. Microabrasion: This technique has been shown to reduce the appearance of WSLs by removing a thin layer of the enamel surface and blending them with the surrounding tooth enamel.
  2. Resin infiltration: A minimally invasive approach that involves applying a low-viscosity resin to the porous WSLs. The resin penetrates the enamel, masks the appearance of the lesions, and has been scientifically proven to help prevent further demineralization.
  3. Teeth whitening: By bleaching the surrounding tooth enamel, the contrast between the WSLs and the rest of the tooth surface can be minimized, making the spots less noticeable. Teeth whitening treatments include professional in-office treatments, take-home kits provided by dental professionals, and over-the-counter whitening products.

Remember, your child’s dental professional is the best resource for guidance on the most appropriate treatment option based on the severity of the WSLs and your child’s specific needs and preferences.

By consulting with us regarding your child’s oral health, we can recommend the most appropriate treatment for your child’s specific needs should they need extra help tackling WSLs.

Protecting Your Child’s Smile During Orthodontic Treatment

To sum up, while WSLs can occur during orthodontic treatment, numerous preventive measures and post-treatment options are available to help minimize and manage their impact.

Ensuring proper oral hygiene, maintaining a sensible diet, and using fluoride-based dental products are just a few ways to protect your child’s smile. If they persist, treatments like microabrasion, resin infiltration, and teeth whitening can be explored with our guidance.

If you have concerns about WSLs before, during, or after your child’s orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team at Ontario Kids n Braces.

Our experienced professionals are dedicated to providing the best care for your child and addressing any concerns you may have. We are here for you by phone at (909) 466-4611 or via email at info@OntarioKidsNBraces.com.


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