Cavity Vs. Stain: What Is That Spot on Your Tooth?

You might have noticed a spot on your teeth but can’t determine if it’s a cavity or a stain. Oral care is essential, and knowing what that spot is can help you deal with it better. This is why we will mention the differences between cavity vs. stain in this blog.

The Main Difference Between Cavity Vs. Stain

It might be tricky to tell the difference between a cavity and a stain.

A cavity is a stage of tooth decay, and it is a permanently damaged area on your tooth. Moreover, it can get bigger with time and create a visible hole in your tooth. While stains may look like cavities, they either diminish or grow instead of getting bigger. Not to mention, brushing and diet changes might make stains go away.

Signs It Is a Tooth Stain

Stained teeth don’t necessarily mean unhealthy teeth. Also known as tooth discoloration, they might affect the aesthetics of your teeth. Nonetheless, stains usually don’t affect your teeth’ health or performance nor lead them to rot.

Tooth discoloration is the sole sign of stain because that’s what it is. Yes, cavities also stain your teeth, but slightly differently. The color of the stain depends on your food or drink.

Regular consumers of coffee will notice brown or black stains, especially if they don’t immediately brush their teeth after having it. Similarly, they can be:

  • Red for those who eat tomato or tomato sauce products
  • Yellow for lovers of sugary or corn starchy food
  • Brown for heavy smokers


Other than this, tooth stains cover more surface area than the cavity, sometimes even an entire tooth. So if your tooth is yellow or off-whitish in color, chances are it is a stain.

Another factor responsible for yellowish teeth is aging. Over time, the enamel layer wears down as we age, exposing the dentin layer instead. This is why teeth appear yellow with age.

Signs It’s a Cavity

Cavities are also possible culprits of tooth discoloration. A tiny black, grey, or brown spot on your teeth is a sign to visit your dentist. But there are other noticeable signs of a cavity, like:

1. Toothache
Not a random toothache that comes once in a while; a cavity will bring a constant pain in your tooth. Hence, tooth pain when you’re just drinking or eating could mean a cavity.

2. Sensitivity

When it comes to cavity vs. stain, tooth sensitivity is a telltale sign of tooth damage. Initially, cavity might not trigger sensitivity. Sugary foods and drinks plus hot or cold temperatures can cause toothache if you have a cavity. Comparatively, stains never trigger any toothache.

3. Pain While Eating & Drinking

Cavity will make tasks like eating and drinking painful. You’ll be unable to enjoy chewing on nuts and other hard food if a cavity is present in one or more teeth. Moreover, hot or cold foods and beverages are likely to trigger pain.

4. Noticeable Holes or Pits

A visible hole or pit in one of your teeth is an evident sign that you have a cavity. If you notice one, go to your dentist for immediate treatment and stop tooth decay.

5. Staining

Cavities can discolor your teeth, but it is not always apparent. Sometimes, they blend with the color of tooth enamel. Other times, they are in spots that are not visible in a mirror. Therefore, a dentist might be able to detect it in your next dental appointment.

The Takeaway

When we talk about cavity vs. stains, it might be confusing. However, many factors help determine if you have a stain or a cavity on your tooth. Regular visits to the dental office are vital for your oral health, and these check-ups can help detect hidden cavities. See our team at Hermann Parks Smiles for your dental examination and to improve your oral health. Dial (713) 522-1717 to schedule an appointment today.



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