You follow a good oral hygiene routine and attend regular dental checkups, taking great pride in your beautiful, healthy smile. Despite all your hard work, spots can still appear on your teeth. While a dark spot on your teeth often indicates tooth decay or an early cavity, that is not always the case. At New Leaf Rohnert Park, we understand how concerning a new spot on your teeth can be. When little black spots on teeth appear, our team is here to help answer questions and provide treatment if necessary.
- Black spots on teeth can be caused by tartar buildup, aging, genetics, tobacco use, certain foods, antibiotics, fluorosis, and more.
- Cavities are different from staining and can be identified by changes to the tooth’s surface.
- Most black spots from staining are not harmful, but should be checked by a dentist.
- Treatment options include dental cleanings, whitening products, in-office tooth whitening, fillings, crowns, or veneers.
- Prevention tips: good oral hygiene, avoid tobacco, rinse/brush after consuming staining foods/beverages, regular dental cleanings, and eat foods that prevent staining.
Why do my teeth have black spots?
While dark spots on the teeth can often be a sign of dental decay and cavities, that is not always the case. Spots developing on the teeth is common and can occur due to several different causes, including:
- Tartar buildup: Some people have higher levels of calcium in their saliva. When this occurs, it is good for your teeth to protect from decay. However, it can cause a dark discoloration to tartar. This can often cause black stains along the gumline on the tooth’s surface.
- Tannins: Tannins are a natural substance found in plants and are common in beverages such as tea, coffee, and wine. These tannins can contribute to dark spots on the surface of your teeth.
- Aging and genetics: Just like we all have different skin colors, teeth whiteness can vary by person, as can the natural propensity for tooth staining. As you age, hormonal changes can also alter these, increasing the risk of tooth staining.
- Tobacco: Tobacco can cause natural staining to the enamel of the teeth, whether you are smoking or using chewing tobacco.
- Certain foods: Foods high in color, such as blueberries, can contribute to tooth discoloration.
- Certain antibiotics: Medications, such as the antibiotic tetracycline, can contribute to tooth discoloration.
- Fluorosis: An overexposure to fluoride during the first years of life can contribute to a discoloration of adult teeth when they come in, ranging in color from yellow to dark brown.
- Celiac disease: Celiac disease can contribute to problems with the dental enamel, resulting in discoloration that can cause white, yellow, or brown spots on the teeth.
- Previous dental work: Oftentimes, the metal used in previous dental work, such as fillings, can transfer color to the tooth.
- Dental trauma: Trauma to a tooth can cause discoloration to occur.
Difference between black stains and cavities
When you notice a dark or black spot on your tooth, how can you tell if it is just a spot or a cavity? The big difference between the two is whether or not there is a change to the surface of your tooth.
A cavity occurs when decay breaks through the enamel, creating a small hole. On the other hand, staining is caused by a buildup on the tooth’s surface. If you are not experiencing symptoms such as sensitivity or pain, how can you tell the difference? Using a toothpick or dental flosser, gently touch the spot. If you feel an indentation, chances are you may have an early cavity.
Are black spots on teeth harmful?
In most cases, black spots due to staining are not harmful to your teeth, but it is always a good idea to have any new spots checked just in case they are covering areas of damage to your tooth’s enamel. If there is damage, your dentist can address this before it allows for the development of a cavity.
How to remove dark spots?
The good news is you don’t have to hide behind spots and stains on your teeth. Various treatment options can help remove staining and return your beautiful pearly whites to their original condition. These can include:
- Routine dental cleanings: Regular dental cleanings help remove buildup that can contribute to potential dark spots and discoloration. If you experience regular staining, talk with your dentist about more frequent dental cleanings. It also allows your dental team to spot any potential dental concerns, such as cavity development.
- Whitening products: Over-the-counter whitening products include whitening toothpaste, whitening gels, whitening strips, and more that can help you keep your smile stain-free. Ask your dentist which products they recommend.
- In-office tooth whitening: In cases where at-home whitening treatments are not enough, professional whitening treatments offered by your dentist can provide a faster and more efficient method for teeth whitening.
- Dental treatments: For stubborn stains that do not respond to whitening treatments, you may consider other options, such as white composite fillings, crowns, or veneers.
How to prevent black spots on your teeth?
The best way to prevent black spots, whether by staining or cavities, is to follow a good oral hygiene routine to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. In addition to brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day, the following tips can also help you reduce your risk of dental staining:
- Stop smoking or using tobacco products
- Rinse your mouth or brush teeth after eating or drinking foods and beverages high in coloration, sugars, and tannins
- Drink beverages high in tannins (wine, tea, coffee) or other sugary beverages with a straw to avoid contact with your teeth
- Attend regular dental cleanings
- Increase the intake of foods that can help prevent staining, including leafy greens, cheeses, high-fiber fruits and vegetables, foods high in antioxidants, nuts, and whole grains and cereals
Routine exams can help identify potential dental concerns.
Spots on your teeth are not uncommon and not necessarily a reason to get concerned. If you discover a new spot, the New Leaf Rohnert Park team is here to help. We can help identify if this spot might be the early signs of dental decay or if it is simply just a spot easily treated with a dental cleaning or whitening treatment. To learn more about how our caring team can help restore your pearly whites, contact us online or call the office at (707) 607-8695 to schedule an appointment.