Noticing an imperfection on our teeth causes a moment of panic. What does it mean? Is it a sign of something worse? Wisdom teeth sit at the back of the mouth—they’re hard to see and challenging to keep clean.
While not everyone has them, most of us notice them coming in between the ages of 18-23. It can be pretty painful when they erupt, especially if there isn’t enough space in the mouth. In such cases, they grow in at the wrong angle or only partially erupt. This is known as an impacted wisdom tooth.
If you notice a black dot on your wisdom tooth, don’t worry. Let’s check out the possible causes and what you can do about it.
What Causes a Black or Dark Dot on Your Tooth?
A black dot or darkening wisdom tooth isn’t necessarily an indicator of deeper issues. It could be that something you ate or drank is discolouring your tooth; coffee and smoking are often responsible.
Alternatively, it could be a sign of tartar building up. Tartar is a hard substance that builds up and could cause spotting. Tooth injury, medication, ageing, and certain medical conditions might also trigger dark dots on your teeth.
However, unlike other teeth, wisdom teeth are prone to growing in at a strange angle, called impacted wisdom teeth. The positioning of impacted wisdom teeth means that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to clean your teeth perfectly. Therefore, gum disease and tooth cavities aren’t unusual with impacted wisdom teeth.
What Are the Signs of a Cavity?
It’s essential not to panic if you think you might have a cavity in your wisdom tooth. A cavity forms after plaque builds up. Plaque contains acid, which erodes the enamel on the surface. The hole in the protective layer might look like a black dot or dark discolouration.
Pay attention to the telltale signs and book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Here are the common symptoms of a decaying wisdom tooth:
- A black dot or stain on the tooth
- Hot and cold sensitivity in the wisdom tooth
- Persistent toothache
- A hole in the tooth
- Sensitivity to sweet food and drink
- Pain while eating
- Swollen jaw or pain when opening the mouth
How to Treat a Black Dot?
How you treat wisdom tooth discolouration depends on the cause. If coffee and nicotine are to blame, then you might want to pay for teeth whitening. You can get over the counter whitening kits or visit a professional.
On the other hand, if decay or cavities are at fault, you might need further dental treatment. These could include fillings, root canals, and even crowns. If the impacted teeth become infected more than once, your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal.
The procedure is widespread—many Australians have their wisdom teeth removed at some point in their life. Speak to your dentist about any worries you may have concerning wisdom teeth removal.
How to Avoid Dark Dots on Your Teeth
You can’t always avoid a dental issue. Sometimes, no matter how often you brush your teeth and dutifully attend your bi-annual check-up, an impacted wisdom tooth may still cause problems. However, there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of a tooth cavity.
- Practise good oral hygiene. Floss and brush your teeth at least twice daily. Brush for two minutes. Use mouthwash to kill any bacteria in your mouth (although this shouldn’t be in place of brushing).
- Brush your teeth after consuming foods and drinks that stain, such as coffee, tea, soda, wine, red sauces, or chocolate.
- Drink coffee and other staining beverages through a straw to prevent the liquid from touching your teeth.
- Follow a balanced diet—try to avoid large quantities of sugar. Drink water or clean your teeth with mouthwash after consuming sugary foods and drinks.
- Avoid nicotine, such as cigarettes, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, or cigars.
- Attend a dentist appointment every six months for a general check-up and routine cleaning.
- Talk to your dentist about extra steps you can take to ensure the health of your teeth.
The Bottom Line
A black dot on your wisdom tooth may not be a sign of anything more serious. However, to keep your smile clean and confident, you should get it seen to. If you’re unsure whether it’s infected, speak to your dentist. Wisdom tooth removal is a standard procedure and not one to fear. Keep an eye on your wisdom teeth, and don’t panic if you see discolouration.