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What are black teeth?

The natural tooth colour ranges from white to yellow. They are covered by enamel, which is a very hard and white substance thanks to calcium hydroxyapatite, but on the inside, they have dentin, which is a more organic tissue and yellow in appearance. As the enamel thins down, owing to wear, the dentine becomes more visible and overall the tooth will appear yellower/darker – this is, in a way, natural.

Sometimes black spots may appear on a tooth which is quite different from a natural ageing process. Usually, these happen owing to external stains but could also be related to decay that has progressed substantially.

Patients who 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

Usually, blackness associated with teeth causes no symptoms. No tooth will immediately ‘turn black’. Instead, the tooth is likely to darken in colour over time. Failing to address a darkening tooth, however, is likely to see the situation develop further.

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:

  • Stains – drinking and eating certain consumables such as coffee, tea, red wine and fizzy drinks can cause staining and lead to teeth appearing dark.
  • Tartar – this is where plaque builds up and hardens on the teeth. When excessive it looks quite dark and 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.
  • Tooth decay – also known as cavity, can be described as a small hole found in the tooth where the dental enamel and dentin has been breached and damaged by bacteria. Usually at their earliest stage cavities are not easily detected and can rot the inside of the tooth without many visual signs. Potential causes for cavities include eating/drinking sugary products and/or not maintain a regular oral health regime i.e., frequent brushing/cleaning.
  • Mouthwash – certain mouthwash liquids 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 – either due to the necrotic byproducts that appear when a tooth dies or due to the chemicals used by performing a root canal treatment, root-treated teeth usually discolour over time and can appear really dark.

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 or heavy staining is the cause, your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to scrape the plaque and tartar from the tooth using gentle 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 composite filling will have to be placed to restore the damage and prevent a resurgence. If the destruction caused by the decay is extensive, root canal treatment followed by a crown may be needed. Extraction of the tooth is to be avoided at all costs!

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 acidic and sugary food/drinks that are bad for your teeth.

Prof Christian Mehl

Written by: Prof Dr Christian Mehl

A certified implantologist and prosthodontics specialist with 20+ years in dentistry, I conduct clinical research, teach at University of Kiel, and contribute to implant system development. Recipient of the Camlog Research Award, I frequently publish and deliver global lectures.

Clinically reviewed by: Dr Raul Costa

When did we last update this page?

Our expert team continually update and research the latest news and techniques in dentistry, as such we regularly update our pages and have these clinically reviewed.

Current Version

July 21st 2023

  • Added “when did we last update this page” and author biography to the page.

Written by: Prof Dr Christian Mehl

Medically reviewed by: Dr Raul Costa

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October 2nd 2022

  • Page redesigned and updated to reflect change in address.

Written by: Prof Dr Christian Mehl

Medically reviewed by: Dr Raul Costa

30th August 2021

  • Original content created.

Written by: Prof Dr Christian Mehl

Medically reviewed by: Dr Raul Costa

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