Do you have a tooth stain or a cavity? Let's Talk About the Differences

Do you have a tooth stain or a cavity? Let’s Talk About the Differences

When you visit the dentist, one of the first things they will do is look at your teeth. You may see a tooth stain and wonder if it is something more serious, like a cavity. There are noticeable and significant differences between tooth stains and cavities. But how do dentists treat these two problems? Keep reading to learn more!

Cavity vs. Stain

A cavity is tooth decay that causes a permanently damaged area on the tooth’s surface. As the tooth decays over time, it can create a hole in your tooth. This is when you need to contact your dentist.

Stains are discoloration on the surface of the tooth. They can shrink and grow, but they can eventually disappear. Stains can fade over time with good oral hygiene, including brushing and being conscious of your diet. Sometimes tooth stains can resemble cavities, but letting a dentist take a closer look can quickly answer this question.

Symptoms of a Tooth Cavity

Cavities have some tell-tale signs:

Brown or Black spot on the Tooth

These can be a single spot or spots on surrounding teeth.

Tooth Sensitivity 

You may notice your tooth or the surrounding area is sensitive. You will usually experience sensitivity with hot or cold foods.

Visible Holes in the Teeth

Visible holes—even tiny holes—in your teeth are a good indication of a cavity. Holes in the teeth can start small but grow larger and larger if not treated.

Tooth Pain 

You may experience some pain and discomfort. If left untreated, minor discomfort and sensitivity can turn into consistent and severe pain. Pain is a typical symptom of cavities because they cause the dental pulp to inflame. The pulp is the center part of your tooth that houses the nerves.

Causes of Cavities and Tooth Stains

There are different reasons why stains and cavities can occur.

Stains usually occur from our oral habits. There are a few things that can cause your teeth to stain:

  • coffee, tea, wine, and soda
  • smoking and tobacco use
  • wearing away of enamel as you age
  • too much fluoride
  • certain medications such as antibiotics
  • tartar buildup

The American Dental Association states that when the acid from plaque develops over time, it can eat away at your tooth enamel. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria and forms on the surface of your teeth. As the enamel wears away, holes can form in your teeth.

Factors associated with cavities:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Dry mouth
  • Acid Reflux
  • Insufficient fluoride
  • Consuming too many sugary or acidic drinks and foods.

What can I do if I have tooth stains?

If you’re unhappy with the look of your teeth due to stains, there are a few actions you can take to get rid of them.

  1. Avoid drinks or foods that can stain your teeth. If you enjoy a morning cup of coffee, try to change it up and choose a different form of caffeine or skip the caffeine and exercise to wake yourself up in the morning.
  2. Brush your teeth during the day. Brushing more than twice a day may feel daunting, but brushing after meals can cut down on the number of stains your teeth can build up over time.
  3. Try using an at-home whitening treatment. Whitening strips or whitening toothpaste can help reduce stains.
  4. Ask your dentist about a professional whitening treatment. A teeth whitening treatment can usually be done in one visit, and you can leave with an instantly whiter smile.
  5. Ask your dentist about other whitening treatments. Depending on your oral health and the severity of tooth discoloration, you may be a good patient for other dental procedures that can lead to whiter teeth.

How do dentists treat cavities?

When you have a cavity, also called tooth decay, it’s not something that can be treated at home. Visit your dentist to treat the affected tooth or affected teeth. A cavity or tooth decay can be painful and should be treated as soon as possible to keep the tooth structure from further decay. Here are a few ways your dentist may treat your tooth cavity.

  • Fillings: Fillings are the most common procedure for cavities. It includes removing decay and filling your tooth with a special resin that restores its shape and function.
  • Crowns: If you have more serious tooth decay, your dentist may recommend placing a crown on the tooth after they remove the decay. The dentist will place a cap over the damaged tooth to protect it from any further decay.
  • Root Canal: If you have a deep cavity that causes damage or injury to the tooth’s nerve, you will need a root canal.

Prevent Cavities and Tooth Stains

Prevention for a cavity vs. stain will look different, but both should be in your proper oral hygiene routine.

Preventing Stains

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, even after meals to prevent food particles from lingering.
  • Use teeth whitening toothpaste to lift stains.
  • Rinse your mouth with cool water after drinking dark-colored drinks such as coffee or dark soda.
  • Floss daily and a part of your oral health routine
  • Drink through a straw to prevent stains.
  • Reduce or quit smoking.

Preventing Tooth Cavities

  • Brush your teeth at least two times a day and floss.
  • Visit your dentist for routine cleanings.
  • Add mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine to help prevent bacteria and plaque buildup.
  • Reduce the amount of acidic and sugary foods you consume. Acid can break down the tooth enamel affecting the inner working of your teeth.
  • Talk to your dentist about using sealants if you have a history of cavities.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste.

Tooth Stain Versus Cavity

Is it a stain or cavity? Although they may look similar, the side effects bring different treatments and outcomes. Avoid costly tooth repair and have an oral hygiene routine that you follow daily. This will keep your teeth healthy and prevent teeth stains. If you have questions about your oral health or have sensitive teeth, contact the dental experts at Raleigh Dental Loft. We are here to help with your dental needs.

Leave a Reply