Cavity or Stain? How to Tell If You Have a Cavity or a Stain

Have you spotted what looks like a stain on one of your teeth? Then you need to take a closer look before you assume it is a simple stain. Cavities start out as caries: the early stages of a cavity, before the worst damage occurs. In the early stages of its formation, a cavity looks very similar to your average coffee stain.

If you have noticed a stain on your tooth and you aren't sure if it is a stain or a cavity, look for the following signs.

White spots indicate a cavity

A cavity forms when tooth enamel breaks down due to acid excreted by the bacteria that live on your teeth. Acidic foods and beverages also contribute to the demineralization of enamel. When enamel starts to demineralize, it turns a bright shade of white. If you notice any white spots on the stained tooth, then the stain could very well be the beginnings of a cavity.

When enamel demineralizes, it becomes porous. As a result, staining molecules from foods lodge in the porous surface of the enamel and cause a localized stain.

Stickiness is a sign of a cavity

Another common sign that is hard to spot is stickiness. If, when you run your tongue over the stain, it feels sticky, then it could be a cavity. Bacteria create sticky films to help them cling onto the surface of teeth. Stickiness then indicates that bacteria are living on or in the stained enamel. And demineralized enamel feels sticky to the touch too.

Rough enamel is an early-stage cavity

One of the obvious signs that a stain is actually the beginnings of a cavity is roughness. Normal stains are smooth. But a cavity feels rough and spongy when you run your tongue over it.

White margins reveal the extent of the cavity

Take a close look at the edges of the stain. Can you see any white margins around the edge? If you can see white margins, then you are looking at a new cavity. While in the early stages, some cavities may stop progressing before they turn into full-blown cavities. But white margins mean that the stained portion in the center might already be a cavity.

Don't assume that a tooth stain is harmless. Look for the aforementioned signs. If your stain is in fact an early-stage cavity, then book a dental appointment as soon as you can. Otherwise, the stained area could soon become a hole.

To learn more, contact a dentist.

About Me

Dental Treatments: A Guide

Modern dentistry can offer you lots of fantastic treatments which can help you to achieve the perfect smile. Our writers may not be qualified dental professionals but they have carried out tonnes of research into the latest dental treatments. On this site, you will be able to discover everything you need to know about laser whitening, invisible braces, and tooth replacement surgery. We hope that by the time you have finished reading this blog, you will be in a position to make the correct decision when it comes to choosing your next dental treatment. Thank you for stopping by to read our blog.



Latest Posts

27 February 2024
Root canal treatments are often surrounded by misconceptions and fear, but they are actually a common and effective way to save a damaged tooth. If yo

2 November 2023
Tooth pain can vary in intensity from slight discomfort to excruciating agony that makes it difficult to concentrate on anything else. Regardless of t

30 October 2023
A sparkling white smile is something that most people desire, but it can be challenging to achieve. Regular brushing, flossing and dental visits are t