What Causes the Bright White Spots on Teeth

I just had 4 - 15 minute zoom whitening sessions this morning and 2 of my teeth just got a bright white spot on them. Looks worse than before the treatment. My bottom teeth did great but I'm very disappointed with the top. What causes these spots?

Doctor Answers 7

White spots on teeth

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The white spots on your teeth weren't caused by the whitening process.  In fact, they were there before your teeth were whitened, but were not as noticeable.  They are areas of hypo-calcified enamel, which unfortunately, won't disappear even after your teeth rehydrate.  

To eliminate these white spots completely involves a very specific process of remineralizing enamel.  The literature on this treatment is fairly new, but I have had great success in my own practice with this technique.  It involves treating your tooth surface with micro air-abrasion or etchant, and subsequent application of amorphous calcium phosphate every day for a period of 2 weeks.  After this initial 2 week period, you may see slight improvement or complete reversal of the white spot.  At this point in time, another treatment of micro air-abrasion or etchant may be necessary, followed by daily application of amorphous calcium phosphate.  You will likely see complete reversal of the white spots after this second round. 

If your dentist is not familiar with this technique and if it is something you are interested in, I'd be happy to speak with him/her about the specific details of the technique and/or refer him/her to the literature.  Good luck!

Manhattan Dentist

White spots after Zoom

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Power bleaching often dries the teeth. Minor hypocalcification spots may become more noticeable immediately after whitening but will fade over the next few days as the teeth re-hydrate.

Mickey Bernstein, DDS
Memphis Dentist

White Spots on Teeth

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Prior to bleaching a patients teeth, they are closely examined for areas of enamel thinning, chemical erosion and hypo-calcification or chalky white spots. (The chalky white spots are caused by poor calcification of the enamel while the tooth is being formed.) Patients are advised and made aware of how these white spots will become more obvious during the early stages of bleaching. They become more obvious because the bleaching effects these areas first. Knowing this will occur, when patients proceed with bleaching , they are initially Zoomed and then in conjunction, use the take home trays for two weeks allowing the body of the tooth without the chalky spots to whiten, creating a good result.

Benjamin S. Fiss, DDS
Chicago Dentist

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Zoom Whitening: Bright white spots on teeth after whitening

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Excellent question. In my office, before undergoing any whitening treatment, I explain to my patients that white spots will likely appear, however within days, even hours, they will begin to blend in.

Your initial feelings of disappointment are completely understandable, since the goal of whitening is not only to whiten your smile, but to achieve a consistent shade across the surface of the tooth. The tooth structure is composed of different minerals which respond differently to the whitening process. Depending on the surface consistency (primarily calcium content), bright white spots or streaks will appear on the whitened surface.

Drink lots of water, as the whitening process temporarily dehydrates your teeth. Your saliva will accomplish this as well. As they begin to re-hydrate, you will immediately see the results you were expecting and hoping for - a brighter, whiter, (spot free) smile, that you will love to flash around town.

Best of luck,

James Asaf, DDS

James Asaf, DDS
Beverly Hills Dentist


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  1. The white spots we sometimes call "headlights " are areas of de mineralized enamel. If white spots are very noticeable TO THE PATIENT, before they bleach, patients usually ASK ME about HOW THEY WILL BLEACH.  If they are very small, and BARELY NOTICEABLE  AND patient is not aware of them, I ALWAYS POINT THOSE AREAS OUT TO THE PATIENT because they are something that we as dentists are able to see.  Prior to bleaching, I make them look in a mirror, and point out that these areas may show up "whiter " than the rest of the tooth right after bleaching.
  2. Good news, rarely do they stay that way, and in a few days they will fade and be barely noticeable. Larger headlights can be white or brownish in color. Those are more noticeable to begin with, and will NOT BLEACH AWAY.  If they detract from otherwise nice teeth, we have ways to treat them.  
  3. Did you have braces? The white spots sometimes can be from where the brackets were attached, or if higher up near the gum line, from not brushing as well as you could have! Now see why the orthodontist was all over you??
  4. There is a newer treatment that I have used on a bride-to-be for small white spots on her teeth.  Worked fairly well, and takes 1 visit.

Paula S. Gould, DDS
Englewood Dentist

White Spots on Teeth after Whitening

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The whitening process dehydrates the teeth making the hypo calcified areas already present on your teeth stand out as visible white spots. This gets better soon as the teeth begin to rehydrate after the procedure but does not completely go away. 

These spots are usually already present in your teeth and are not caused by the whitening process.

Prashant Nanda, MDS
India Dentist

White spots on teeth after whitening

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Whitening does not cause the white spots but they do become more apparent. Once the stain is exfoliated from the teeth the white spots which already existed become more prominent.  Since the tooth is dehydrated immediately after the procedure, the white spots are even more prominent.  As the tooth rehydrate over the next few days the white spots calm down and have a much better appear appearance.


Peter Mann DDS

Peter Mann, DDS
Manhattan Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.