Blonde woman in a turquoise shirt touches her lip as she wonders if she has a tooth stain vs. cavity

Do I Have a Cavity or a Stain?

September 30, 2021 2:17 am | Published by |


Cavities and tooth stains are very different, but they can look similar depending on the severity.

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is another word for tooth decay. It occurs when the acid produced by bacteria chews holes in your tooth enamel. When untreated, these holes grow and can spread to the root of your tooth, leading to severe tooth pain, infection, or tooth loss. You’ll often not see cavities, but they can appear as black, gray, or brown spots.

To prevent decay, you should maintain great oral hygiene routines at home and visit the dentist at least every six months for a cleaning and checkup. Dental sealants, which we apply over your molars, also make a big difference.

Causes of Teeth Discoloration

Dark-colored tartar, red wine, coffee, tobacco, and aging all cause staining. Stains can look yellow, brown, or orange. Too much fluoride can also stain your teeth with white spots. Most of the time, stains only affect your smile’s appearance, not its health. However, your teeth can stain because you aren’t brushing and flossing well enough. This will have oral health consequences.

It’s impossible to prevent all tooth stains, but you can keep your teeth whiter by brushing and flossing well and visiting the dentist. Drinking beverages like coffee and red wine through a straw can help, too.

Improving the Health & Appearance of Your Teeth at Dental Health Associates

Cavities and general tooth discoloration have different treatments. For tooth decay, there are fillings and dental crowns. For stains, our office offers custom whitening trays and one-size trays with professional-strength whitening gel. Teeth whitening fades over time, so maintain good brushing and flossing. For a permanent fix, there are veneers, which also reshape and strengthen your teeth.

If you’re noticing discoloration on your teeth or experiencing symptoms like sensitivity and pain, please contact us today! We can identify whether the problem is a cavity or a stain.


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