Cavity Vs Stain – How To Know What I Have?

Noticing a discoloration on maybe one or more of your teeth can be a daunting experience. Staining is somewhat similar to stage 1 of early cavity, that is why distinguishing between cavity vs stain is difficult.

Luckily, there are some remarkable differences between the 2. A cavity is more like a spot on your tooth, whereas staining is a slightly more prominent discoloration of the tooth that takes up a large space on the surface. Let’s find out more about this.

Cavity vs Stain – How to Know the Difference?

You know very well that stains and cavities look visually similar at first on the tooth surface, but if we put some effort into research, we will know that they also have their differences.

First up is its life on the tooth. A cavity vs a stain is permanent on any tooth, be it incisors, molars or premolars etc. One gets cavities when the bacteria move on and rots through the tough protective enamel layer of the teeth.

If the cavities receive no treatment, they will form tiny pits of a tooth hole, which may eventually progress into decay or other kinds of dental issues.

While if we talk about stains, they have no such collateral damage involved. In fact it is more of an aesthetic point trouble. What is the reason behind stains vs cavity? Why is it temporary? Well, tooth stain or discolorations come into play after the teeth enamel comes in contact with the food or drink you eat containing pigments.

Teeth Stain – Telltale signs

The main indicator of staining is a change in shade or color of the teeth. You may confuse a cavity vs tooth stain and think that it is also a form of discoloration. They may seem similar, but a staining discoloration is different.

The discolorations that are because of food can be of varying colors because of the staining capabilities of food.

Additionally, you must know that stain covers the tooth on the whole. At the same time, the cavity grows slowly at a certain area. Therefore, if you see a drastic change in color, it is a stain and not a cavity.

Symptoms of Cavity vs Stain

Cavity vs stain has just one similar factor, and that is tooth discoloration, which also happens in a different pattern.

If your change in the shade of the teeth is from a focal point, like a dot, the chances are that it is a cavity growing on your teeth.

While as far as staining is concerned, it takes up a huge chuck


We understand that knowing exactly what is happening in your mouth can result in the wrong diagnosis. Therefore we urge you to reach out to dentists from Nimmi Shine Dental.

Dr. Joseph Mara

Dr. Joseph Mara

For more than 19 years, Dr. Joseph Mara has been a leading dentist in San Diego, providing affordable, gentle, and honest dental care. Driven by a commitment to patient’s trust and satisfaction, he undergoes continuous education and specialized training in oral implantology and endodontics. At his practice – Nimmi Shine Dental, convenience and comfort are paramount. Utilizing advanced technology such as the Vatech PaX-i3D Scanner and Computer Guided Implant Surgery, the clinic emphasizes efficiency and overall patient well-being. Call us today at (858) 999-8550 to schedule a consultation with our expert dentist.


Skip to content