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Dark Spots On Teeth That Aren’t Cavities

A dark spot on teeth is one of the most common signs of the cavity. However, several reasons can cause these spots. That means dark spots on teeth that aren’t cavities always. They can be either dental problems or simply a lack of dental hygiene.

You brush regularly and use other dental hygiene products. But sometimes, you still notice dark spots or stains on your teeth. If you are concerned about these dark spots on teeth, you are on the right page now. Continue reading on why these dark spots happen on teeth and how to get rid of them.

Table of Content

What Are Dark Spots On Teeth That Aren’t Cavities?

Let’s take a look at the types of dark spots on your teeth that aren’t cavities. Most of them occur due to poor dental hygiene and some underlying medical conditions.

Dental Calculus or Tartar

Sometimes you will see dark spots or stains at the junction between the teeth and the gums. These spots typically look like disconnected black lines or thick dots. They are simply lines of tiny black dots on the tooth, not the cavity.

Dentists name these dark spots on teeth that aren’t cavities as tartar or dental calculus. Tartar is the calcified buildups that create a thick layer or coating on the teeth and gums.

The naturally grown bacteria in our mouth mixes with the leftover food particles and creates a sticky film. Yes, they are plaque. If you have poor dental hygiene, plaque will be pretty common on your teeth.

dark spots on teeth that arent cavities

If you do not treat plaque on time, it deposits more minerals from the saliva. Later, they harden and creates spots on your teeth. And this fossilized oral plaque turned into tartar.

Tartar is porous, and with time it absorbs minerals and gets stained from darker pigments from the foods and drinks.

You cannot remove these black spots on teeth only by brushing or using other dental cleaning products. Only professional scaling can help you to get rid of Tartar.

Also read, Can You Have Holes In Teeth That Aren’t Cavities?

By Nishat Saif

Discoloration By the Teeth Staining Foods

However, black spots can be neither tartar nor cavities. It can be simply discoloration of the teeth or dark stains on the chipped or cracked enamel from acidic foods.

Usually, discoloration can affect all your teeth. But mostly, you will find them on a few particular teeth. Smoking is one of the major reasons for teeth discoloration, followed by food.

Difference Between Tartar and Cavities

Sometimes there are dark spots on teeth that aren’t cavities. But how will you understand whether the black spots on your teeth are dental calculus/tartar or cavities?

Before going to your dentist, you can check it in three easy ways. So, you don’t need any tooth cavity vs stain comparison chart. Take a look at the differences here.

  • The most notable difference is that black spots or tartar are build-ups on your teeth, whereas cavities are holes. The easiest way to find out this difference is by feeling the black spots with your tongue or a toothpick/flosser. If it feels like a build-up on the teeth, it is tartar. But if it feels like a hole, it is a cavity.
  • Cavities usually have other symptoms like mild/severe tooth pain, tooth sensitivity, pus or abscess, chipped or broken teeth. On the other hand, tartar or calculas won’t have those discomforts.
  • Tartar usually causes dark spots or layers that spread above or below the gum line where cavities are like single black dots or dashes.

How To Get Rid of Black Lines on Teeth?

You cannot remove tartar or dark spots on teeth using dental hygiene products at home. A professional oral cleaning at a dentist’s office is the step that you should go for.


The cleaning process to remove plaque, tartar, or dark spots is called scaling. This process includes a thorough cleaning of the periodontal pockets. In this process, tartar or calculus above and below the gum line is scraped off with a plaque scraper.

Root Planing

After scaling, you have to go through another process named root planing. It means smoothing the teeth’ roots to restore the attachment between the gums and teeth.

Regular Dental Cleanings

Once your dentist removes the tartar or dark spots on teeth that aren’t cavities, you must continue visiting the dentist’s office. Try your best to be there every six months for regular dental cleanings.

dark spots on teeth that aren't cavities

It will help remove subsequent plaque or tartar before depositing more minerals and making the spots darker.

With dental cleanings, you will also get some additional benefits. It will prevent gum disease, and your dentist can check if there are cavities in your teeth.

Is Dental Calculus or Tartar Dangerous for Teeth And Gums?

Dental calculus or tartar affects the teeth and gums badly. It can lead to progressive gum diseases and cavities if not treated on time.

Tartar Can End Up with Decayed Teeth or Cavities

When you have tartar, brush and floss those teeth properly will be difficult. This can result in tooth decay or cavities.

Tartar Can Cause Mild Gum Diseases

When the tartar enters below the gum line, it rips up the blood vessels there. The blood pigmentation and proteins turn the tartar black.

Tartar below the gum line can also end up with other gum diseases. The mildest one among them is gingivitis. You can cure it by adequately brushing and flossing, and cleaning with an antiseptic fluoride mouthwash. Besides, regular cleanings at the dentist’s office are necessary.

Tartar Creates Periodontal Pockets and Damages The Jaw Bone If Not Treated

If gingivitis is not treated, it damages the gum tissues and teeth gaps. It also creates periodontal pockets.

Bacteria piled up in these pockets, causing a severe gum and tooth infection named periodontitis. It can even destroy the jaw bone that supports the teeth.

Tartar Can Lead to Heart Diseases and Severe Health Problems

Some studies have found that the bacteria in this gum disease can even lead to heart disease and other health problems.

Causes of Dark Spots on Teeth That Aren’t Cavities

The causes of plaque, tartar or dark stains on teeth are the same. The following habits can build up tartar or develop black spots in your teeth.

Poor oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is the leading cause of black spots, plaque, or tartar build-up. If you don’t brush and floss properly, tartar can be visible as black spots and develop below the gum line.


Smoking develops black spots on the teeth. If you are a chain smoker, the spots will be much darker and larger. Even chewing tobacco will do the same damage.

Excess Intake of Starchy and Sweet Foods

If your diet contains high amounts of sugar and starch, it will attract more bacteria. And your teeth will be more sensitive to plaque and tartar. We may not consider rice or bread as sugar, but our body does.

The result is that we think we are avoiding sugar, but actually, we are not.

dark spots on teeth that aren’t cavities

Acidic Foods and Drinks

Extrinsic dark stains can also result from excessive acidic foods or drinks like red wine, caffeine, soda, etc.

If you have the habit of drinking excess tea or coffee, it can stain the plaque in your teeth. Wine has tannin, which tends to cling to the plaque and develops black stains.

Brushing immediately after drinking wine can be the cause of damaged enamel and permanent stains on the teeth. So it’s better to let the booze settle down before brushing.

Damage To the Tooth’s Enamel

When a tooth is cracked, the damaged enamel can accumulate minerals or get stained from acidic foods or drinks and develop black stains.

Dental Restoration Materials

Metal amalgam fillings can cause your teeth to appear blackish or grey. Especially if the dental materials have silver sulfide, it can rust and leave black stains on the teeth with time.


Medications like liquid iron supplements can create black stains on the teeth.

How To Prevent Dark Spots or Tartar, Dental Calculus on Your Teeth?

It is always better to prevent tartar or dental calculus before it can build up on your teeth. When your dentist removes tartar through professional cleaning, you need to be proactive so that tartar doesn’t get a chance to build up again.

Tartar, plaque or dark spots on teeth that aren’t cavities can be prevented with the following habits:

Brush Your Teeth Properly, Not Only Regularly

Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. Brushing for 30-seconds is not going to help you to get rid of plaque or prevent tartar. Make sure you reach the hard-to-reach spaces between the teeth.

If you have experienced excessive plaque build-up in your mouth, try to brush after every meal.

Use Electric Toothbrushes

Electronic toothbrushes are said to remove the plaque better than manual toothbrushes in some studies. However, make sure that the toothbrush you are using has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval.

Floss Your Teeth Once a Day

I have seen people are indifferent to flossing as much as they consider brushing teeth. No matter how properly you do, no brush can remove stuck foods between the teeth.

Flossing is one of the most effective ways to remove those leftover food particles and bacteria from the hard-to-reach areas between the gap of two teeth. Floss your teeth at least once a day, especially before going to bed.

Avoid Sugar If You Have Excessive Plaque or Tartar

Avoid starchy and sugary foods. Bacteria in our mouth booms if they get a constant supply of sugar. I know it isn’t easy to give up sugars forever. But try your best to limit the amount. Drink enough water and brush after eating any sugary food or beverage.

Pick A Tartar Control Toothpaste

Use a tartar control toothpaste to prevent the build-up of plaque. Fluoride can repair the damage to the enamel. Some brands of toothpaste have an antibacterial ingredient named triclosan that can fight against plaque germs.

Visit Your Dentist Every 6 Months

Get an appointment with your dentist at least twice a year for regular check-ups and professional cleanings.

Avoid Foods, Drinks, And Habits That Stain Your Teeth

Give up smoking. Avoid excessive caffeine, highly acidic foods, and beverages.


If you experience dark spots on teeth that aren’t cavities, the very first thing you should do is to visit your dentist. Only a dentist can correctly remove dental calculus or tartar from your teeth if it has already formed.

Do not ignore dark stains on teeth. It is not only an issue about aesthetics. It can create much more severe problems for your health.


Can I Save My Black Tooth at Home?

No, you can’t. Black spots on teeth are something that no home remedy can treat. It is an alarming condition and indicates that your teeth need special care. Rush to your dentist as soon as you notice the black tooth. The dentist will diagnose the problem and will do the proper treatment.

What Are the Signs of a Dying Tooth?

The first sign of a dying tooth is discoloration. You will lose the natural color of your tooth, and it will turn yellow. As time passes, the discoloration process will enhance, and your tooth will become light brown, gray, and, finally, black. The pulp is the only live portion of a tooth. When the pulp dies completely, the tooth is considered a dead tooth.

Can I Leave My Dead Tooth Within the Mouth?

It depends. When the pulp or root of the tooth is dead, the whole tooth is considered dead. If you undergo a root canal treatment, the vitality of the tooth is lost. However, you can keep the tooth in your jaw, but you must wear a crown, bridge, or partial denture.

Because, after a root canal treatment, the tooth becomes weak. That’s how you can keep the dead tooth to continue your normal masticatory function. But, if your tooth is too soft that may become fractured, you’d better extract it.

What Do Dentists Do for Rotten Teeth?

If the tooth condition is not too bad, the dentist uses fluoride treatments like fluoride varnish, fluoride gel, etc. In the worst-case scenario, fluoride treatments won’t work. The dentist will remove the dead portion of the tooth to stop any further damage.

After that, he will fill the cavity. For anterior teeth, the filling materials are mainly composite that matches the tooth color. For posterior teeth usually, silver or mercury are used. A dental crown or bridge is also given in some cases, depending on the tooth condition.

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