You are brushing or flossing, then you notice a dark spot on your tooth. Naturally, you get worried. What could it be? Is it a cavity? Why is there a dark spot on your tooth? Not always is a dark spot on tooth a sign of a cavity, and regardless of popular beliefs, not all teeth are naturally white, and even with the best dental care, discoloration on the tooth commonly occurs in many adults.
In this article, answers to your questions have been provided to enable you to tell the difference between a cavity and a common stain, the different causes of dark spot on tooth, and how you can remove dark spot on tooth.
DOES DARK SPOT ON TOOTH ALWAYS MEAN A CAVITY
A cavity is formed due to poor dental hygiene habits that can lead to the buildup of food particles and bacteria, which develops into a substance called plaque. When not taken care of, plaque can eat through your enamel, opening doors for a cavity to form. That is when you may begin to notice the appearance of a dark spot on your tooth.
However, there are several reasons you could have a dark spot on your tooth, and cavity formation is just one of those reasons. A dark spot on tooth does not always indicate a cavity.
CAUSES OF DARK SPOT ON TOOTH
A dark spot on tooth can occur due to environmental, genetic, or habitual factors. Here are some common causes of dark spots on tooth:
1. FLUOROSIS: A condition that occurs due to much fluoride exposure when your teeth were developing in childhood. Exposure can come from drinking fluorinated water, swallowing too much toothpaste, or taking vitamin supplements rich in fluoride.
2. SILVER DIAMINE FLUORIDE: When you have had a cavity and it was treated using silver diamine fluoride, you are very likely to have a dark spot where you had the cavity. Treating cavities with silver diamine fluoride is a non-invasive treatment option that leaves behind a dark spot on the affected tooth.
This treatment is not commonly used for adults due to discoloration, but sometimes it is recommended for children who develop cavities in their baby teeth or children with special needs which makes it difficult for them to have their cavity drilled or filled.
3.TARTAR: When tartar is left untreated, it turns from yellow into green, brown, or black. Tartar is caused as a result of the buildup of plaque on the teeth, and for it to turn into a dark spot, certain factors such as improper brushing and flossing, smoking, intake of high sugar diet or beverages, are usually the reasons.
Untreated tartar can penetrate below the gum line, and tear into the blood vessels of the gum. When this happens and pigments of blood and protein mix with tartar, there will be a dark discoloration on the affected area.
4. A MEDICAL CONDITION: Certain medical conditions such as Celiac disease can cause a dark spot to appear on your tooth. Celiac disease is an immune response to certain types of food. It makes some people gluten-sensitive and leads to malabsorption of certain nutrients in the small intestine, which in turn could lead to the damage of tooth enamel or cause it to stop developing properly. This often leaves a spot.
5. TOOTH INJURY: This could include bruising, internal fractures, and infections. Any of these could be the reason you have a dark spot on your tooth.
6. MEDICATIONS: There are some medications you had used as a child that could be responsible for the dark discoloration on your tooth, especially antibiotics, specifically the antibiotic tetracycline. The causes of a dark spot on tooth have been categorized into two:
- Extrinsic Discoloration: This type of discoloration can be caused by the food you eat or what you drink.
- Intrinsic Discoloration: This is caused when you may have been exposed to much fluoride at a young age or a traumatic experience involving a permanent tooth.
HOW TO TELL IF A CAVITY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DARK SPOT ON YOUR TOOTH
There are several signs to indicate that you may have a cavity. A cavity does not only appear with a dark spot on tooth, there are other signs such as:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold substances in the affected tooth
- Pain in the tooth
- A hole or pit in the tooth
- Pain while eating
When you notice any of these signs along with the appearance of a dark spot on your tooth, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can, to prevent any further complications.
CAN DARK SPOT ON THE TOOTH BE REMOVED
Yes, you can remove a dark spot on your tooth in several different ways, however, treatment depends on what caused the appearance of the dark spot on tooth.
For instance, if the dark spot on your tooth is a result of the buildup of tartar, your dentist will have to remove the tartar buildup through a dental procedure such as dental prophylaxis.
WAYS OF REMOVING DARK SPOTS ON TOOTH
1. TOOTH-COLORED, COMPOSITE RESIN FILLINGS: This method of removing a dark spot from the tooth is specifically recommended if the cause of the appearance of the dark spot is tooth decay (cavity) or tooth injury.
The decay or injury is first removed or treated completely, and this helps to correct the discoloration. After the decay or injury has been treated, your dentist will fill the hole formed due to the decay or injury, with a composite resin, using a color suited to match the surrounding tooth.
2. USE OF VENEERS: Some dentists may suggest the use of porcelain veneers or composite bonding to hide stubborn dark spots, although this is a more expensive approach to removing dark spots on the tooth.
3.COSMETIC TREATMENT: If the dark spots are not due to any health-threatening factor, then your dentist might suggest any of the following cosmetic treatment options:
- Professional teeth whitening treatment: It involves the use of a peroxide-based bleaching kit or whitening strip.
- Tooth polishing: This is using an abrasive substance.
- Fixing dental crown to cover the tooth discoloration.
CAN TOOTHPASTE REMOVE DARK SPOT ON THE TOOTH
This still comes down to the cause of the dark spot. If it is nothing severe, there are home remedies that could be used to help remove dark spots on the tooth, and one of these remedies is the use of whitening toothpaste.
Whitening toothpaste is made up of mild abrasives and chemicals that can help remove dark spots from the teeth, however, do not use it for a long time as that can strip down the enamel layer of your teeth and cause teeth sensitivity.
Other home remedies you can try to use in removing dark spots from your tooth are:
- Brushing with baking soda
- Use of Apple cider vinegar
- Or the use of turmeric
However, no evidence proves these techniques can help whiten your tooth.
PREVENTING DARK SPOTS FROM APPEARING ON YOUR TOOTH
Although dark spots on tooth are not uncommon, you can still prevent them from appearing on your tooth. Even after you may have succeeded in removing them, you can make sure there will be no recurrence by trying some of these tips:
1. Practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing at least twice daily. In addition to that, you can as well use a mouthwash that contains ingredients such as alcohol, menthol, or eucalyptus, as these ingredients are effective in killing bacteria in the mouth.
2. Make some lifestyle modifications such as not using nicotine products like cigarettes, pipe tobacco, or chewing tobacco.
3. Keeping up with dentist’s appointments is a good way to prevent dark spots from forming on the tooth and maintain healthy teeth. Visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning. Doing this makes you aware of any development that could be detrimental to oral health and allows you to treat it before it becomes complicated.
4. Some dentists recommend using straws to drink coffee or any beverage that can stain your teeth, to prevent the liquid from touching your teeth.
5. Drink water or best, brush your teeth after drinking coffee, tea, soda, wine, or after eating chocolates, as these things can easily cause spots or stains to form on your teeth.
Dark spots forming on the tooth are not unheard of, and there are several factors responsible for dark spot formation on the tooth. Cavity formation is not the only reason you could have a dark spot on your tooth. As much as they are not uncommon, they can also be removed, but this depends on what caused their appearance in the first place.
Your dentist may suggest a filling or a root canal if the cause of the dark spot appearance is tooth decay or tooth injury. Sometimes even with a simple home remedy such as using a whitening toothpaste, you can get rid of dark spot on tooth. Keeping up with a dental checkup and practicing good oral hygiene can help you prevent dark spots from appearing on your tooth.