tooth stain vs. cavity

Taking care of your teeth is a tricky and tedious process. It’s easy to make mistakes and leave your teeth open to issues down the line. However, it can sometimes be hard to tell what exactly is wrong with your teeth.

What exactly is the difference between a tooth stain vs. a cavity, and what should you do about it?

How to Know if You Have a Nasty Cavity or Just Another Tooth Stain

Take the guesswork out of your dental hygiene routine. Here are some simple ways to tell between a cavity vs. tooth stain.

What are Black Stains?

While black stains may seem like a generic term in dentistry, they have a specific meaning. They appear as thin, black lines running across the tooth. These lines can be found at the base of the tooth along the gumline.

These lines are a buildup known as tartar. These calcium and mineral deposits build up over time and need professional dental cleaning to remove. This is due to a fossilization process within the buildup, hardening it against regular dental hygiene practices.

Causes of Black Stains

Black stains are the direct result of mineral buildup, meaning that the foods you eat contribute to your teeth’ black stains. The more sugary foods and drinks you consume, the more likely you will develop black stains on your teeth.

Smoking can also lead to black stains development due to the high concentration of chemicals in cigarettes. Alcohol can have a similar effect as well. If you notice a lot of buildup on multiple teeth, you may want to cut back on smoking and drinking.

Finally, certain infections in your gums or teeth can lead to black stains. This type of infection should be handled immediately to avoid further damage to your teeth.

Differences Between Tooth Stain vs. Cavity

There is a significant difference between tooth stain and cavity. The most considerable difference between the two is how the tooth itself feels.

Black stains are a buildup, meaning they will be raised slightly from the tooth. Using your tongue or a safe tool for your teeth, gently scrape the dark area; if it feels raised, then it is likely a black stain on the tooth rather than a cavity.

Some black stains may not leave much of a buildup and instead be superficial discolorations on the teeth. These types of stains won’t leave your tooth feeling any different than usual. Unlike the usual black stain, these types of stains can appear all over the tooth.

Meanwhile, a cavity is a hole that has been made in the tooth by bacteria. When feeling the area with your tongue or a safe tool, you may feel an indentation of an actual hole within the tooth. These signs signify a potential cavity forming, so pay close attention!

Cavities and tooth stains should both be taken seriously, as either instance can lead to severe issues with your teeth and gums. Contact your dentist right away if you notice a cavity or tooth stain.

How to Rid Yourself of Black Stains

Unfortunately, getting rid of black stains yourself is nearly impossible. To safely have black stains removed without harming your teeth, you’ll need to visit a dentist for a professional tooth cleaning. The black stains may cause further damage to your teeth if unchecked, so try to visit your dentist right away for an evaluation.

However, there are specific ways that you can prevent black stains before they appear. Of course, you should stick with fluoride toothpaste and brush your teeth twice a day for about two minutes to prevent natural buildup. You should also floss regularly to remove any plaque between the teeth.

Besides your usual hygiene practices, cutting down on sugary foods and drinks can help lower your chances of developing black stains. Make sure to attend regular dental cleanings and get rid of any tartar on or between your teeth.

Cut tobacco products out of your routine to keep your teeth healthy and strong. Tobacco produces many chemicals that can cause tartar buildup, so cutting back can help a great deal.

Black stains resulting from discoloration can be prevented by avoiding dark drinks, such as coffee, tea, colas, and red wines. Cutting down on these drinks can improve the external appearance of your teeth over time. However, for especially deep or dark stains, you may need to schedule a teeth whitening to repair your teeth properly.

When to Call a Dentist

Outside of your regularly scheduled tooth cleanings, you should call your dentist right away if you notice any signs of tartar buildup on your teeth. Tartar can be a sign of underlying dental hygiene issues, including severe infections and gum disease. No matter how small the buildup may seem, it would help if you spoke with your dentist right away.

You should also get in touch with your dentist if you notice a cavity forming on one or more of your teeth. With proper care, your cavity can be filled before the damage becomes too severe to manage.

Protect Your Smile Today

Now that you understand the difference between a tooth stain and a cavity, you can work harder to protect your smile. Remember to contact your dentist at the first signs of a problem with your teeth; improper dental hygiene can lead to more severe issues if left unchecked.

Have you ever had to deal with a tooth stain or cavity that went unchecked for too long? What were the results?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment down below with your own experiences and share this article with your friends and family to keep them informed.

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