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Unknown Dark Spot on Third Molar

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AnxiousWretch

Junior member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
4
Location
Iowa, United States
This might seem somewhat mundane, but it has caused me ceaseless anxiety to the point where I even get weak looking at myself in the mirror knowing it is there and that I don't know what it is - whether or not it is nothing, or a ticking time bomb in my mouth.

Internet searches have been inconclusive whether it is a stain or decay. Friends, in their well-intentioned support, have also been inconclusive and even contradictory. That is the short of it, anyway.

The long story is that roughly three to four months ago, I steeled myself enough to get a dental examination after a five to six year hiatus. Fortunately, they did not report anything amiss aside from some tartar build up, told me to keep my routine, and that they'd call back in six months to see if I wanted to schedule a cleaning.

Roughly about two weeks ago, brushing my teeth, I noticed a dark spot on the back of my third molar. It was dark enough to where it could not have built up in the few months since the exam, but the dental hygienist and dentist proper did not mention it to any capacity, and I grew concerned that they might have missed it due to it being on the rear of the third molar. Likewise, the bitewing showed the tooth partially obscured by the jawbone, so I am concerned that they might have simply overlooked it - contrary to the explanations of my friends that a professional would not miss something so easily.

Either way, I have been attentively brushing it, rinsing it constantly with water after meals, and attempting to avoid anything with carbohydrates and sugars - hesitantly eating just out of hunger. It has become an obsession, and while I try to justify to myself that it is, in fact, just a stain, enough doubt lingers in my mind to where I have occasional panic attacks questioning if that is true, or is just a cope on my behalf to not have a breakdown.

The attached picture was taken a few days ago, and while it is not as bad as I initially thought, trying to references with actual pictures of decay and stains have been indecisive and contradictory. The opinions of my friends, laymen, have been equally as unhelpful, which has just made the situation all the more stressful.

For what it's worth, there is no associated pain or sensitivity. My tongue isn't quite as dexterous to feel the area, but from what I can gather with a fingernail or toothpick, it doesn't seem to 'stick'. There might be a slight rough texture, but admittedly, there is a similar texture along most of the third molar in question, so I'm not sure if that's actually associated with the dark spot in particular. But I am not a drinker, smoker, or really partake in things like coffee, so the typical descriptions of stains seems unlikely.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but this has troubled me to the point where I am basically fearing myself to sleep, and any confirmation would be appreciated - at least for the peace of mind.
 

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letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,759
Hi @AnxiousWretch, a lot of the stuff that looks sinister to our eyes is harmless from a dentist's perspective. It's not only drinking, smoking, or tea/coffee that can cause stains. There are plenty of other culprits, e.g. tomato-based sauces, curries, berries, or soy sauce. And sometimes, an area of tooth may become demineralised and then hardens again ("arrested decay"), which can also leave a darker stain that doesn't require any intervention.

Often, dentists can't tell whether something is just staining or arrested decay by simply looking. Instead, they use x-rays and a tactile examination.

By all means, if you are really worried about it, ask your dentist at your next check-up appointment, but from what you have said, it sounds as if they didn't find anything amiss :)
 
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AnxiousWretch

Junior member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
4
Location
Iowa, United States
The next appointment is admittedly one of the reasons I was hoping for some confirmation one way or another, although I do suppose it's hard to really diagnose without x-rays or a physical examination.

One of the concerns is that if it is actually is active, progressing decay, I don't know if the two to three months would be sufficient time for the condition to worsen, i.e. progress from the option of fluoride treatment into necessitating filling. Likewise, if it is just a stain, scheduling an appointment early might be premature and an unnecessary overreaction.

It's somewhat compounded with the fact that it's on the third molar, which I'm told isn't easy to really work on or pleasant to anesthetize for, and that some dentists will simply opt out for extraction if there are evident issues, so that has me somewhat on edge as well.

The placement of it on the rear of the third molar and how it shows up on bitewings has me worried that it might have been missed on the examination, but I suppose the fact that both the dental hygienist and dentist did not note on it accounts for some redundancy? I don't remember them doing any examining of the area with the explorer though, so that has me somewhat concerned.

Thanks for the comforting explanation, though. It doesn't necessarily do much to assuage my immediate fears, but it does help to know that it might not definitely be decay - at least a little.
 
drhirst

drhirst

Super Moderator
Verified dentist
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
778
Location
Welwyn Garden City, UK
Hi Anxiouswretch,
Firstly you win three prizes:
Prize 1- Outstanding dental photography of a very difficult area. Best photo by a lay person I have ever seen.
Prize 2 - Fantastic oral hygiene. No a hint of any plaque, wish I was a effective with the toothbrush.
Prize 2. Cleanest tongue of the year, even under magnification!

As to the mark of your tooth. It looks totally innocent to me. I would say it is an area that decalcified some time ago when your oral hygiene in the particular area was not as on point as it is now, due to the cheek deflecting the toothbrush. This is very common, but it looks stable and I would be absolutely amazed if any treatment is suggested when your dentist next examines you.
I hope this reduces your fears a little.
Lincoln
 
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AnxiousWretch

Junior member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
4
Location
Iowa, United States
I'm flattered, though I must say that the state of oral hygiene is probably motivated through primal fear more than anything else, for better or worse.

But your opinion does reduce my fears quite a bit! They probably won't be properly absolved until the dentist examines me again, but knowing that it appears innocent and stable in the eyes of a professional is like a heavy weight off my heart - especially against the past few weeks filled with fear, anxiety, and doubt.

I don't know if there is any exceptional attention I should give to the area, but I'll keep up my current routine, at the very least. I think I can survive until appointment time, hopefully, and I'll try to get back with an update to the situation once everything is done.

Thank you, Lincoln, for your kindly words and professional opinion. It's done a lot to assuage my concerns. And thank you, LetsConnect, for offering moral support! I greatly appreciate all the help and support through these difficult times.
 
drhirst

drhirst

Super Moderator
Verified dentist
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
778
Location
Welwyn Garden City, UK
@AnxiousWretch , I am so pleased to have been able to help. just make sure to keep the area clean and it should remain fine.
I would love to hear the eventual outcome.
 
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AnxiousWretch

Junior member
Joined
Nov 21, 2022
Messages
4
Location
Iowa, United States
Visited the dentist a few hours ago, so I am following up on this thread for posterity's sake.

In short, it is as drhirst predicted, and nothing happened.

I mentioned it as a 'passing concern', and when the dental hygienist brought up the bitewings taken six months ago, there wasn't anything amiss. Likewise, the wisdom tooth wasn't particularly obscured by the jaw bone as much as I thought, but that's neither here nor there.

The dentist proper later passed by, was informed about my 'passing concern', and took a look after some other checks. After running the explorer over the area, he seemed unimpressed, and offered a similar explanation as drhirst; although he did add that hypocalcification probably happened during development. Not that I can really confirm that at this point, but he found no decay or cavities, so it is what it is - effectively a stain, as I was informed.

The rest of the appointment was fairly uneventful. Checking gum depth, routine cleaning, and some passing comments about food. All-in-all, some general improvements, and a clean bill of health.

I also brought up my concerns about diet and my increasing concerns with carbohydrates and sugars with the dentist, who seemed out of his element, but attempted to assuage them nonetheless. They were the typical statements of frequency, duration, and 'stickness', but added that it was probably fine as long as they were within meals. I, uhh, can't say that it helped too much, but he did offer a certain reassuring bluntness in that 'you will die without carbs', so... it is what it is?

Either way, I am once again thanking everyone here for their patience and support, and appreciate the help and attention addressing these concerns - fleeting as they might be in hindsight. 🙏
 
drhirst

drhirst

Super Moderator
Verified dentist
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
778
Location
Welwyn Garden City, UK
Glad to have been of assistance
 
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