The Highways and Byways of Tooth Decay: Why Your Molars Have Black Lines

Posted on: 23 January 2019

Have you noticed black lines on the biting surfaces of your molars? Don't panic yet. You might be looking at stains—not tooth decay. Because of the way molar teeth are shaped, stains can develop, creating snaking black or brown lines that look like a network of roads.

However, unless you are a dentist, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between staining and tooth decay in regards to black or brown lines. In general, three types of molar lines exist.

General Staining

Molars are especially prone to staining due to the pits and fissures that make up their biting surfaces. For instance, food particles can become trapped in these grooves. As a result, the staining molecules contained in the foods you eat cling to these grooves, resulting in dark lines that resemble tooth decay.

However, it is possible for staining and decay to go hand in hand in this regard.

Demineralization and Staining

Another process that also might be taking place is demineralization, followed by staining. As mentioned earlier, food particles become trapped in the grooves of molar teeth. When this happens, the acids contained in those food particles eat into the tooth, causing demineralization, where the enamel breaks down.

Staining molecules then lodge in these deeper grooves, leading to staining. Fortunately, these areas can remineralize if care is taken once they have been discovered. A dentist can also polish away stains and seal the pits and fissures to protect against further staining and decay.

The bacteria that live in every human mouth, those that cause tooth decay, may also be metabolizing those food particles before secreting an acidic waste product. This is one major reason why you should see a dentist as soon as you spot black lines.

Tooth Decay

The lines in your molars could also be caused by tooth decay. If the lines haven't already been there for years, indicating staining, then you might have a case of tooth decay. If decay is to blame, don't assume that the damage is limited to the lines in your molars. Tooth decay can occur under those lines too, without your knowledge.

The decay doesn't start inside the tooth. Instead, when a tooth is sufficiently demineralized, at first it appears whiter than usual in the area of demineralization. The area will also be sticky. Bacteria can enter a tooth through this damage and thus begin to break down the tooth from the inside out.

Don't prod or touch these areas. See a dentist. Your issue could be any of the above three. That means you should leave the diagnosis up to a dentist.


Looking younger and fresher

No one ever comes in asking to look older. When they want make an actor look old in a movie they do a few subtle things to age their face, like lighten their eyebrows and yellow up their teeth. That's because the signs of aging don't just affect your skin, they also show in your mouth. A natural bright smile leaves you looking and feeling younger. Cosmetic dentistry is a great way to naturally look younger without painful plastic surgery. If you are looking at getting some cosmetic dentistry this site has great articles about teeth whitening, veneers and other cosmetic procedures.