What are black teeth?

‘Black teeth’ is less a condition and more a symptom of an underlying dental disease. Typically, the natural tooth colour ranges from white to yellow. This is due to the colour of the main ingredient of the teeth – calcium/calcium hydroxyapatite. The colour of  calcium hydroxyapatite is white-yellowish. Teeth can start to darken over time as the tooth enamel thins, this makes the layer beneath (called ‘dentin’) more visible.

A tooth may start to darken and ‘become black’ either because the exterior of the tooth has been damaged or stained or because the interior has been damaged or decayed and has progressed outwards to a visible surface.

Patients that present with black teeth are often very self-conscious about the aesthetic appearance of their teeth and in some cases, can feel discomfort or pain in the affected area.

Symptoms of black teeth

No tooth will immediately ‘turn black’. Instead, the tooth is likely to darken in colour over time. Failing to address a darkening tooth is likely to see the situation develop further.

The affected tooth may start by darkening and present as a brown or grey colour. In some instances, smaller areas on the tooth may start to appear darkened just below the gum line and appear as small black stains or marks on teeth.

Exterior (or what we call ‘extrinsic damage’) appearance of black teeth is usually most common on the outside of molars or the inside of the front lower teeth. It may also be observable in areas where the tooth enamel has been destroyed, such as cavities.

Speak to a dental professional today

Our dentists have all the experience, skill and technology required to diagnose and treat your black teeth. Arrange an appointment with our dental team at our central London dental clinic, situated on the prestigious Wimpole Street.

What is the most common cause of black teeth?

There are several possible reasons that black teeth may develop, these include:

  • Tartar – this is where plaque builds up and hardens on the teeth. This is most frequently found close to the gum line.
  • Tobacco – smoking or chewing tobacco increases the probability of staining teeth and can lead to black teeth.
  • Stains – drinking and eating certain consumables such as coffee, tea and fizzy drinks can stain the tooth and lead to black teeth.
  • Cavities – a cavity is a small hole found in the tooth where the dental enamel and dentin has been breached and damaged by bacteria. Potential causes for cavities include eating/drinking sugary products and/or not maintain a regular oral health regime i.e., frequent brushing/cleaning.
  • Medication – certain medications can lead to teeth staining.
  • Trauma – if the tooth has been hit with an external force, the tooth might bleed internally and subsequently darken
  • Root canal treatment – if a tooth has been damaged by decay affecting the nerve the tooth might discolour over time.

How do you fix and prevent black teeth?

Removing black teeth will almost always require dental intervention from a professional. It is always crucial to visit a dentist so that they can examine the affected area, explore potential causes, and explain treatment options to you.

If the black teeth are caused by extrinsic damage e.g., where black tartar on the tooth is the cause, your dentist or dental hygienist may be able to scrape the plaque and tartar from the tooth using specialist dental equipment. Stubborn stains could be treated with professional stain removal combined with teeth whitening to improve the aesthetic appearance of the tooth.

If the cause of black teeth is ‘intrinsic’ (i.e., damaged on the inside of the tooth) then a more robust dental treatment may be required. The decay may need to be removed entirely and a root canal treatment, a filling or crown might have to be placed to prevent a resurgence. If the tooth is beyond repair, it may need to be extracted entirely. Black teeth can be prevented by following several simple steps:

Regular cleaning

Regular brushing, cleaning, and flossing of the teeth twice a day can reduce plaque build-up and tooth decay.

Visits to your dentist

Regular visits to your dentist for a check-up allow a professional to monitor and identify any early stages of tartar or decay. Furthermore, a visit to the dentist or hygienist may allow them to professionally clean the affected area before the condition progresses.

Healthy diet

Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet that avoids excessive consumption of dark and sugary food/drinks that are bad for your teeth.