Dark Spots on Teeth: Freak Out or Not?

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girl worried about teeth
Open wide! Seriously, open up your mouth and take a real close look at your teeth. Do you see any dark spots? Perhaps some black lines on the biting surface of your molars or a brown dot in a groove? These dark spots are very common and many people have them and don’t even know it. Are these dark lines and dots something to worry about? Occasionally dark spots on your teeth do indicate something bad like an active cavity, but if you are seeing a dentist regularly and have been given the thumbs up for no cavities, the dark spots are most likely something called, ‘arrested decay.’

What is Arrested Decay?
Cavities are either active or arrested. If the cavity is active, it is progressing and growing and this is never good. If the cavity is arrested it means the cavity was once active but has since remineralized or healed or hardened up and is no longer progressing. An arrested cavity is not a concern and does not need a filling. Brown/black spots that are arrested decay are properly termed, “brown spot lesions.”

Common Thoughts about Arrested Decay
I find that people either think nothing of these dark spots on their teeth, or worry about them, as if the spots are going to become a sinister cavity at any second. But I think something entirely different. I think arrested cavities are a cause for celebration! Here are two reasons why you should stop thinking the common thoughts about arrested decay.

Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Brown Spot Lesions
Arrested decay, including brown spot lesions are at no more risk of becoming an active cavity than the rest of your teeth. Obviously it is ideal to be focusing on prevention and remineralization strategies for the rest of your teeth and if you are then you’ve got yourself covered for your brown spot lesions as well. In fact, some areas of arrested decay are actually more resistant to future decay than the rest of the teeth. This is because once the area remineralizes, a more dense layer of minerals is created in the tooth. See, a reason to celebrate those brown spot lesions!

Why You Shouldn’t Think Nothing of Brown Spot Lesions
Okay fine this one is just my way of sneaking in some more celebration for our teeth. Instead of the common thoughts people have, rotating between worrying about their teeth and thinking nothing about their teeth, why not change that to celebrating our teeth? Have you ever celebrated your teeth before? That’s what I thought. Brown spot lesions are a sign that cavities can heal, and if you have one or many, this means you healed your teeth and avoided one or many fillings. Congratulations! Your tooth is healthy and resilient and that is great news. In my book, How to Stop Cavities: A Natural Approach to Prevention and Remineralization, I say that arrested decay brown/black spots should be thought of as metals of honor. They are a constant reminder that teeth can heal and if you have healed your teeth you should celebrate!

So you see, not only is it possible to naturally heal teeth, but many people already have healed teeth and they don’t even know it. Now that you know it is possible to have that healthy mouth you desire, it is time to celebrate!


1 Roberson TM, Heymann HO, Swift EJ. Sturdevant’s Art & Science of Operative Dentistry, 4th ed. (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Mosby, Inc, 2002), 90, 98, 424.