What The Hell Are These White Spots On My Teeth?!

Ever since my dog ate my retainer, they've seemed really noticeable. Is an expensive cosmetic dentistry treatment the only fix?
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Chelsea
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Ever since my dog ate my retainer, they've seemed really noticeable. Is an expensive cosmetic dentistry treatment the only fix?

I’ve never been one to fixate on blemishes. From stretch marks and scars to wrinkles and zits, I do what I can to prevent them, but when they do occur, I don’t freak out. These are signs of age and experience, right? Everyone’s got ‘em. We’re all human.

THAT SAID. I have been obsessing slightly (majorly) over one aesthetic flaw for the past few years.

I have white spots on my teeth--specifically, my two front teeth. It looks like flecks of white paint splashed on top of off-white paint. I wish I could see it like a sexy, offbeat Lara Stone gap, but I feel like it degrades my whole look--makes me look dirty somehow. Sort of like how a bruise can turn you off of an otherwise good piece of fruit.

This is my natural, resting face.

This is my natural, resting face.

I’m pretty sure I wasn’t born with them--you know, with the lack of teeth and all--but looking back on some family photos, I see I did have these spots as a kid, pre-braces. When I got my braces off at age 15, I had to wear a mouthguard-type retainer at night, and that pretty much made them go away.

I continued to wear said retainer every night for about the next 10 years. (The orthodontist never said when to stop!) So the white spots weren’t on my mind for a good long while. That is, until, my dachshund made a chew toy out of my retainer.

I can't stay mad at this face.

I can't stay mad at this face.

Perfect timing, Finnegan: My uninsured ass hasn’t been to a dentist--let alone an orthodontist--in years. So I haven’t replaced the retainer, and I haven’t been able to address the white spots, which are back in full effect.

Regarding the origin of the spots, I have heard several semi-informed opinions in recent years. A family friend who works as a dental sales rep says that it could be from excessive exposure to fluoride, such as in our drinking water and those squishy mouthpiece dental treatments I had as a kid (I don’t care if it’s bubblegum or strawberry flavored--that stuff is awful). Another friend, a former dental hygienist, says they could’ve been caused by a fever when I was younger. Beats me.

These things I do know: They seem to get worse when I drink liquids known for staining, like coffee or red wine. At-home whitening does not help. And they seem to be more obvious after naps, too. I'm an open-mouth breather when I sleep, and my theory is that this dries my teeth out. Is that possible?

And, yes, I do brush my teeth twice a day and have a pretty good dental track record to boot. I’ve heard there’s nothing you can do at home to solve this issue, but that options like microabrasion (gently removing the outer layer of enamel) or cosmetic surgery might be necessary if I really want to fix it. Not exactly on the top of my medical priorities list. So, for now, I’ll try not to obsess over it.

Does anybody else out there have this problem? If so, have you gotten a solid dental diagnosis or prognosis? Please let me know!