Black Spots on Teeth that aren’t Cavities

Woman staring at mirror while inspecting her teeth

Finding black spots on your teeth can be an alarming find and it’s rightfully so, given what it would mean. Bad oral hygiene is no joke and having a visual marker of it can be daunting. However, not all black spots are cavities. Black spots are a common issue caused by various factors ranging from diet to dental hygiene, often mistaken by many to be tooth decay due to dental misconceptions.

Read on to learn how to identify, prevent, and treat tooth discolourations and understand why they occur.

Identifying Black Spots

A dental cavity occurs when the enamel is damaged creating a hole. It can be identified by the discomfort that goes hand-in-hand with it. 

Signs may include:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks
  • Inability to tolerate sweets 
  • The presence of a hole or pit in the affected tooth 
  • Pain when you bite into food

If any of these signs are indicative of your issue, make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further decay and serious complications. Cavities are often treated with fillings in benign cases but may lead to the need for crowns and root canals in more severe cases.

The absence of these factors can help dispel the conclusion of tooth decay and point in the direction of other causes. Although it may not be a harmful indication, it is best to get new black spots checked by a dental practitioner.

Other Causes for Black Spots

Food and Drinks

Often caused by beverages with staining properties (Tannins) such as coffee, tea and wine. Over time the pigments of these drinks can leave their residue in the enamel, showing up as dark streaks or spots.

Tobacco use

Smoking or chewing tobacco can lead to the nicotine and tar clinging onto your teeth, staining them terribly, and making it look as though you’ve got cavities.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Not brushing and flossing regularly can lead to the buildup of plaque that can turn into tartar which can look like black spots. 


Adults who took antibiotics like tetracycline as children may develop discolouration that may appear as dark stains which can be mistaken for surface cavities. 

Dental Work

Old metal fillings with silver amalgam can transfer colour to the tooth in a greyish hue creating dark spots leading to the fear of cavities.


Fluoride is an excellent ingredient for teeth cleaning and the prevention of cavities. As with anything  in life, everything in excess is bad. Excessive usage of fluoride in childhood can lead to white or brown spots on teeth.

Tartar Buildup

Poor brushing habits can lead to the buildup of plaque in teeth. The presence of plaque for long periods can harden it into tartar, which will turn black over time. 

Tooth Injury

Dental trauma can cause internal bleeding or damage to the pulp, making the tooth appear darker. 


Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) can lead to the erosion of dental enamel, creating the appearance of cavities.


In some cases, people naturally have darker teeth due to genetic factors. The shade and translucency of teeth are attributed to genetic links and this is an unavoidable circumstance.

Keeping Black Spots at Bay

Several quick and easy measures can be taken to prevent the formation of black spots on teeth starting with maintaining good oral hygiene and committing to dietary changes.

Good Oral Hygiene

  • Remember to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss at least once a day. No excuse!
  • Regular checkups at 6-month intervals with a dentist will be beneficial for maintaining your teeth.

Watching your Diet and Habits

  • Cutback on the intake of food and beverages that are liable to staining.
  • Quit smoking and turn on a new leaf. Your teeth (and your overall health) will thank you for it.
  • Using a straw for drinks can help keep liquid off your teeth.

Dental Products that Come in Handy

Certain dental products can help with surface-level black spots, stains and plaque that may emerge on your teeth. These can be used as at-home dental essentials to prevent and maintain. However, their efficiency is limited and won’t lift stubborn discolouration as effectively as a professional cleaning and whitening treatment done at a dentist’s office.

  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Whitening Strips
  • Mouthwash

Getting Rid of Black Spots

Professional cleaning

An appointment with a dental hygienist is recommended for cleaning away plaque and tartar that cannot be removed at home.

Whitening Treatments

Dentists recommend either in-office whitening treatments or at-home whitening kits to get rid of tough stains and black spots. The former is done with a powerful bleaching agent applied by your dentist while the latter can be done using custom trays and gels provided by a dental professional for use at home.

Dental Bonding

Adhesive dentistry is used to cover up black spots on teeth. Tooth-coloured resin is applied on the natural tooth and then hardened with a special light. This dental procedure can effectively treat stubborn discolouration.


Veneers are a  popular and in-demand fix to get the perfect smile, dental practitioners will place a thin shell to cover your teeth with pigmentation to reveal a cosmetic change.


If your teeth are severely blemished with damage, a dentist will place a crown to cover the whole tooth.

When to see a Dentist

If you spot persistent black spots on your teeth which are overly stained and affect your daily life, do not hesitate to call a dentist’s office to get appropriate treatment after a consultation. Maintaining awareness and proactive care can keep your teeth healthy and free from black spots. Remember, while not all black spots are cavities, they should not be ignored. 

Contact our team at Wyndham Dental for the best care and advice to proceed with a personalised diagnosis and a treatment plan for your affected teeth.