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Dark Spots on My Teeth – What’s the Cause?

Posted in cosmetic dentistry, Dental Care, and General Dentistry

Dark Spots on My Teeth

At Erbsville Dental we work with you to try and keep your teeth in good shape, so they’ll last a lifetime. However, even with the best dental care, it may be hard to keep them pristine for that amount of time. Some have asked why dark spots form on their teeth. While brown or black spots can be the result of many different conditions, it’s most commonly simple staining from the foods we eat and drink. The porous nature of your teeth makes them susceptible to one day developing some form of staining. Let’s explore some other causes of dark spots, and how they can be avoided.

Two Types of Stains

There are two types of stains and they’re classified by where they originate. First, stains that develop from what they are exposed to are called extrinsic staining. Second, Stains that come from within the tooth are classed as Intrinsic staining.

Extrinsic Stains

Extrinsic staining penetrates the tooth enamel due to being acidic or just dark in color. This type of staining presents itself as yellow, brown, or unsaturated and dull. Usually, this type of staining takes years to produce an obvious effect. You may call them lifestyle stains as they result from habits like smoking, eating acidic foods, drinking a lot of red wine or coffee, etc. Good news is these types of stains often can be removed or reduced by cosmetic dentistry. Teeth whitening is offered free to all new clients of Erbsville Dental. Dental veneers can also be a great way to straighten and whiten your teeth all at once.

Intrinsic Stains

The more difficult to remove intrinsic staining is inherited genetically, or the result of some environmental condition. Some medical conditions such as celiacs disease can cause this type of stain, usually brown spots. Medications such as antibiotics (not all antibiotics) and excessive fluoride can result in intrinsic staining, as well as infections, oral trauma, and other bodily injuries can all result in tooth stains. This kind of stain often requires more invasive types of correction such as fillings, dental bonding, veneers, and root canals. Not all stains can be removed but instead are covered.  

Most Common Causes

Most of the causes of staining can be treated, and as we’ve stated not all dark spots are the result of or indicate a cavity has formed. Here’s a list of the most common reasons for new dark spots.

Tarter is plaque that has been given enough time to harden (can form as fast as 24 hours). Tarter can turn yellow or brownish in color. Tarter must be removed by your dentist or hygienist. Excessive fluoride intake or fluorosis causes small brown spots, usually on the top of your teeth. Fluorosis is most common in children, but some adults notice it as well. Normal tooth decay can present in various ways and range from yellow to brown and even black depending on location and progression. Spots from Celiac disease can appear brown, yellow, or make teeth look translucent. The disease stops the natural growth of enamel.

Don’t Ignore Dark Spots

Although some stains are natural and don’t require treatment. New spots should be viewed as significant and need to be seen by your dentist. Don’t try and self diagnose as many dental problems causing outward signs are impossible to understand without proper tools like a digital x-ray.  


There are many excellent products available over the counter to whiten teeth. If your stain isn’t tooth decay, infection, or a cavity, most of them will help hide dark spots on your teeth. For an extra effective whitening see Erbsville Dental for custom dental trays that hold powerful whitening gel. Read more about their process through our post “The Whitening Experience”.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Dentist or other healthcare providers regarding a dental condition or treatment.