Unless you go for a dental cleaning once every 6 months, you are likely to be the benefactor of some form of dental staining. One of the most worrying types of staining is known as "black line" staining. While not as damaging to your teeth as stains caused by accumulated tartar, this type of stain affects the quality of your smile, preventing you from smiling.
But what is it? And is it a sign that something is wrong with a tooth?
Black Line Stains Are Harmless
Dentists also refer to this type of stain as simply "black stain". First of all, you can relax because black line stains do not damage the surface of teeth. In general, they appear on the distal (facial) and lingual (tongue side) sides of teeth. Subsequently, they may cause you to refrain from showing your teeth when smiling.
Bacteria Cause Black Line Stains
Black line stains are caused by bacteria. Your mouth is teeming with millions of bacterial organisms and many of them cling to the surfaces of your teeth. Women and young children with baby teeth are more prone to black line stains than men. The good news is that black line stains indicate that a patient's saliva is low in acidity, meaning they also suffer from less cavities.
Gram-positive positive bacteria are what cause black lines to appear on teeth. They cling to substances on teeth such as the bio-film naturally present on teeth or dental plaque, a similar film, but one which contains tooth-decay causing bacteria. Because their cell walls are purple in colour, a build-up gram-positive bacteria can cause a purple to black-coloured stain on teeth.
Cleaning Can Remove Black Stains from Teeth
A dental hygienist can remove black line stains from your teeth using several tools such as a ultrasonic scaler or air-jet polisher. You can also keep the incidence of black line stains low by using an abrasive tooth paste to clean your teeth twice a day. However, the downside of both of these removal types is that the surface of your teeth will suffer in the long run.
The abrasive nature of some toothpastes coupled with the abrasive force required to remove such stains will remove several micro-millimetres of enamel from the tooth surface. However, this can be treated with fluoride. Fluoride, a compound that is mostly present in the first few layers of a tooth, keeps your teeth strong by protecting them from demineralization.
Be sure to speak to a dentist about fluoride treatments if you suffer from black line stains. This will ensure that your teeth stay stain-free and strong.