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Brown Spots on Teeth: Will Dental Insurance Cover Treatment?

Brown spots on teeth are common, and the reasons can be diverse. These spots can occur on milk teeth and adult teeth, depending on what causes them. While some dark spots on teeth can go away with proper home oral hygiene, others can involve multiple teeth and need professional intervention. Treatment costs for fixing brown stains depend on the procedure your dentist advises. As you get started, it's best to be aware of dental insurance for brown spots on teeth and whether your dental insurance covers the treatment or a part of it. This article explores the causes of brown spots on teeth, how to remove them, and dental insurance coverage.

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What causes brown spots on teeth?

Brown spots on teeth can differ in appearance and involvement. They usually occur in the labial teeth surfaces and can be mottled, speckled, or lace-like. Usually, dentists can recognize your pattern over an oral examination.


While it's natural to have a mild yellow tint to healthy teeth, dental stains can be more prominent and range from yellowish to dark brown, depending on the severity and chronicity. Among the many causes behind your brown teeth, dental plaque and tartar buildup often play a key deciding role. People with poor dental hygiene are prone to developing severe tooth stains. With time, it can penetrate deep tissues of your teeth, and you might need professional help.

Teeth stains can be either extrinsic or intrinsic. The nature of the spots dictates the best treatment. Let's take a look at what these different types of stains and spots entail.

most common types of tooth stain
  • Extrinsic stains are usually confined to the enamel, the outer layer of teeth, and are caused by certain colored and pigmented foods and drinks. Red wine, coffee, and tea are among them. Acidic sodas can also affect the enamel, cause erosion, and lead to teeth sensitivity issues.
  • Intrinsic stains involve staining from the inside out and mainly affect the dentin, the inner layer of teeth below the enamel. Common reasons for these stains can be developmental issues, medications, fluorosis, or trauma.
  • Teeth enamel changes color as you age. With age, the enamel can erode. The underlying dentin shade can be seen as the enamel turns thin, making your teeth appear brownish.

Most common factors of brown spots on teeth

Brown spots on teeth depend on some significant aggravating oral health factors. While most of these factors are modifiable and preventable, others are related to accidental accidents and are difficult to predict and avoid. Here are the most common causes of brown spots.

Dental tartar and calculus

The teeth continuously build up debris and plaque. When not properly removed through brushing, this soft plaque can harden with time and form tartar. Once tartar accumulates along the gumline, it can appear stained. Depending on oral bacteria and the foods eaten, the color can vary from yellow to brown to blackish brown.


Carious spots can begin as white spots and, once left untreated, quickly escalate to brown spots and even cavities. A dentist will use a mirror and probe to assess the extent and depth of your cavity before deciding how to treat it.


Tobacco in all forms can be hazardous to your teeth. The nicotine in tobacco is responsible for brown stains in the teeth. In chronic vapers and smokers, the nicotine can penetrate deeper into the dentin and become difficult to remove.

Trauma to teeth

If you ever suffer from an accidental fall or teeth fracture, your teeth can turn brown with time. The pulp tissue makes up the core of the teeth and is highly vascular. Once your teeth fracture, an infection can spread in the pulp, leading to pulp inflammation and hemorrhage. These changes can manifest as a pink tooth and gradually turn the teeth brown.

Enamel hypoplasia

This condition usually affects teeth while they are still developing. It can be due to pregnancy trauma, an early-life vitamin and calcium deficiency, or accidental ingestion of excess fluorides over time. Often seen in young children with newly erupted teeth, this condition affects multiple teeth together.

Drug effects

Drugs of the tetracycline group can stain teeth brown if given before eight years of age. A child born to a pregnant woman who was prescribed this drug during her term can also suffer from generalized brown tooth stains (brown spots on tooth).

Defective root canal therapies

Root canal therapies help to remove an infected root canal. However, if the procedure is not successful and accessory canals are left untreated, the teeth can turn brown with time.

Treating brown spots on teeth

Teeth stains can be notorious, and everyone’s teeth are different. Your dentist is the best person to guide you on what to do and how to remove your brown spots permanently. Let's explore the common brown spot treatments dentists rely upon.

  1. Professional teeth cleaning. A professional oral prophylaxis is an excellent way to eliminate most extrinsic stains. Your dentist might recommend a whole arch scaling or a specific area based on your teeth' condition and stains.
  2. Teeth whitening for brown spots. Long-standing extrinsic and intrinsic stains can be hard to remove with teeth cleaning. Discolored teeth that have been endodontically treated can also need professional internal bleaching, a teeth whitening procedure. Teeth whitening is the best procedure for deep-seated stains. This method works by local bleaching effect on teeth, making your smile brighter and whiter. Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide solutions are the most widely used teeth-whitening agents. They are available in various concentrations and should be used per your dentist's instructions. Your dentist might recommend you an in-office power whitening procedure or over-the-counter available overnight whitening gels customized to your needs. You might also need to undergo more than one sitting to get the desired result. If you want to try OTC products at home, look out for products with the seal of acceptance from the American Dental Association.
  3. Veneers and crowns for extensive enamel damage. For teeth with severe discoloration and extensive intrinsic stains, you might need to mask the outer layer of the stained teeth. Veneers cover the front surface of teeth only, while full-coverage crowns surround the entire teeth- and both can help mask severe discoloration.
  4. Minimally invasive methods. Novel therapies for correcting brown spots on teeth include a combination of microabrasion, bleaching, and resin infiltration. These methods are gaining popularity, given their better aesthetic outcomes.
Spot and treat your stains early
Talk to your dentist about your brown spots as soon as you notice them. Any delay can make the treatment process complicated and include higher costs. Your dentist will also give you an idea of what is covered by insurance and what is not.

Does dental insurance cover brown spot removal?

The cost of removing brown spots from teeth can vary from dentist to dentist. The extent of dental insurance coverage depends on the plan, the cause and extent of the brown spots, and the treatment your dentist recommends.

Dental insurance coverage is of three basic categories — preventive care, basic care, and major care.

Professional dental cleaning and full mouth prophylaxis are key components of preventive dentistry and are typically covered under dental insurance, with low or no out-of-pocket costs. Teeth whitening procedures are often considered cosmetic dentistry solely and might not be covered by insurance. However, cases where teeth whitening is a part of restoring traumatized or fractured teeth can be covered to an extent.

Most dental insurances provide partial coverage for veneers or crowns for cracked teeth or if they are documented to be medically necessary (as a side effect of a drug or faulty root canal therapy). It's best to check your dental insurance plan details for coverage information. Talk to your insurance provider before you begin.

Preventing brown spots on teeth

Some proactive steps can help you reduce your risk of having stained teeth.

  • Dental hygiene and managing brown spots go hand in hand. A good oral hygiene routine can help you keep your stains under check. Brush twice daily for two minutes. Floss regularly, and visit your dentist every six months for dental examinations.
  • Be mindful of the drugs you take in pregnancy.
  • Limit your intake of pigmented foods. Avoid smoking and vaping.
  • Make sure you see a dentist as soon as you notice spots on your teeth.

Your teeth are your asset for life. Any spots on them take away your confidence and limit your daily activities. Maintain good oral hygiene and a healthy lifestyle to avoid the risk of developing stains. Consult a dentist for diagnosis and treatment recommendations and to discuss potential insurance coverage for brown spots.


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