There are many different reasons why a discoloration or dark spot can appear on a tooth. In many instances, there is no real cause for concern. But for peace of mind and to get an assessment of what is causing the issue, an appointment with your dentist is needed.
The primary reasons why a dark spot may appear are:
- Dental decay – A tooth with decay can start out with a small spot commonly referred to as dental caries.
- Fluorisis – This condition exists when the patient has ingested too much fluoride. Teeth may become discolored if the patient drinks fluoridated water, but also takes fluoride supplements or vitamins and/or rinses with fluoridated mouthwash.
- Tobacco – Smoking or chewing is hazardous to one’s health, but many people choose to ignore how much damage is done when using tobacco. And it’s not just aesthetic … oral cancer, gum disease, and the loss of teeth escalates when the patient uses tobacco. Smokers experience discoloration of their teeth.
- Diet choices – Drinking coffee, tea, cola, and red wine … all of these beverages can contribute to stains on teeth. Foods like dark berries or tomatoes can produce stains as well. Awareness of which foods and drinks can promote stained teeth might encourage limiting their consumption.
- Drugs – Not everyone has the identical experience with drugs like tetracycline, but for some this drug, as well as others, can have an impact on teeth.
- Build-up of tartar and plaque – Food left on teeth results in dental plaque. Over time plaque hardens (and it doesn’t take long), and this build-up on teeth can appear as a discoloration of the tooth. And it isn’t just sugar based foods like candy, but anything not cleaned off teeth will harden usually starting around the gums and building from there.
There are a couple of steps that can be taken to decrease the odds of dark spots on teeth:
- Brush teeth at least twice per day.
- Floss daily
- Visit the dentist every six months for a thorough cleaning and dental exam to monitor areas of concern.
- Be mindful of diet and lifestyle choices; we can be proactive in keeping our teeth looking their best.