Black teeth could be a symptom of underlying dental disease that you should not ignore. Human teeth typically range in color from white to whitish-yellow to even whitish-gray. Your teeth take a white tone due to the amount of calcium present in the tooth enamel. Enamel, as you know, is the hard outer covering of the teeth.

Calcium is a natural material that is white in color. Your teeth get most of their coloration from calcium. However, you also have combinations of other materials in the teeth, adding shades of yellow and gray. 

Your enamel starts to thin over time as you progress through your life, causing the dentin to show through. The enamel has an underlying layer known as the dentin. As a result, your teeth start to appear darker. Outside substances can also stain tooth enamel. 

Causes of Black Teeth

When your teeth turn black, that is usually due to one of two common types of causes: intrinsic or extrinsic: 

  • Extrinsic: Extrinsic damage usually comes from the outside of your teeth. Such damage could include staining, tartar formation, or other damage that might affect the outer dental enamel of the teeth.
  • Intrinsic: Intrinsic damage typically starts on the inside and progresses outward. Meaning this occurs when a condition within your tooth causes damage and decay.

Typically, a healthy, white tooth will not turn black overnight. Instead, it will happen over time. Ideally, you should visit a dentist before the damage becomes too noticeable. Some of the common extrinsic and intrinsic causes of black teeth might include:

  • Tooth cavities. Tooth cavities caused by bacteria destroy your dental enamel, leaving tiny holes behind. These dark holes can take on a dark appearance.
  • Dental restoration. Crowns and fillings that contain amalgam, particularly silver sulfide, could cause your teeth to appear black.
  • Staining. Eating and drinking dark-colored food products or beverages, such as cola and tea, can stain your teeth.
  • Taking certain medications. For instance, liquid iron supplements can lead to staining of your teeth.
  • Tartar. Tartar teeth is a hard deposit of plaque on teeth that might build up on the surface and usually starts to appear below your gum line. Some forms of tartar are black.
  • Tobacco. Smoking or chewing tobacco can significantly stain the teeth.

Remember, most underlying causes of black teeth require a dentist’s care to remove or treat.

In some parts of the world, individuals consider black teeth as beautiful. Many years ago, women from countries such as Laos, Japan, and Vietnam intentionally painted their teeth black. The tooth painting practice is no longer widespread, but some older women might have black teeth from those countries.

What are the Symptoms of Black Teeth?

Black teeth may start as spots on your teeth that appear gray or brown or gray initially in color. These spots might then progress to become black in color. Other times, an individual will have what appears to be black, pinpoint-like areas on the surface of the teeth, just below the gum line. This appearance is commonly seen in children who have black teeth.

Some of the common sites for black tartar on the teeth are mainly on the inside of the front lower teeth or the outside of the molars. Black teeth might begin to develop holes in areas where bacteria have destroyed the enamel.

How can Black Teeth be Treated?

You should understand that an individual cannot usually remedy black teeth even with the best at-home care. Instead, you need the attention of your dentist to treat black teeth. Your dentist will examine your teeth thoroughly and then determine the underlying causes of your black teeth. After that, your dentist will recommend treatments necessary to treat the condition. 

If the underlying cause is black tartar, your dentist may remove the tartar using special dental tools. These could include hand scalers specially designed to scrape plaque and tartar from the tooth surface. Sometimes, your dentist might need to use special vibrating instruments to break apart the hard tartar formed on your teeth. These are commonly known as ultrasonic instruments.

When Decay Cannot Be Removed

Unfortunately, there are times when your dentist cannot remove black teeth with dental instruments alone. This is true only when dental decay is the underlying cause. 

Sometimes your dentist may remove the decay and place a tooth filling in the hole where the decay has started to develop. If your decay has reached the dentin, the inner layer underneath the enamel, then you might need a dental crown

A crown is a tooth-shaped covering that is custom made and is placed over a decayed tooth that has been cleaned of decaying material. This process used to clean your tooth is called a root canal.

Sometimes, a tooth may be so severely damaged or decayed that these procedures cannot save it. In these instances, your dentist might recommend removing the tooth.

Your dentist might treat your black teeth that are severely stained with a professional stain removal method and teeth whitening.

Will Poor Oral Hygiene Cause Black Teeth?

Poor oral hygiene might cause your tooth to go black. Your tooth is likely to be staining from substances like red wine, tobacco, and intensely colored food in the early stages. Moreover, if your oral hygiene routine is not thorough enough to remove the acid-secreting bacteria each day, in such a case, the acid will slowly eat away your tooth.

Once your tooth gets eaten away, the tooth decay process will set in. If your tooth has decay, it naturally looks black and can give the appearance of a black tooth. This will look like rotten teeth and is an example of not looking after your teeth for a considerable period.

Will Your Tooth go Black After Root Canal Treatment?

A common misconception is that a tooth will go black after a root canal treatment. In reality, teeth will often go black before root canal treatment as the tooth starts to rot and decomposes on the inside.

If your dentist does root canal treatment correctly, it will remove all of the decomposing tissue. As a result, the blackness will not get worse. However, your tooth might be only mild darkening after a root canal, depending on how the root canal treatment is done and with which material.

How Long Does it Take for a Tooth to go Black?

If the cause of the tooth blackness is due to decay, the blackness can happen for a few years. If the reason of the blackness is due to trauma, the tooth might turn black. Meaning once the blood supply has been cut off from the tooth, the internal tissue will begin to die and turn black.

Will Your Chipped Tooth Go Black?

If the chip in your tooth is just in the enamel, the chances are it will not go black. Meaning as long as you keep the tooth clean, you will have fewer chances of having black teeth. You do not need to see a dentist urgently. Simply make an appointment to discuss how this can be repaired.

If the chip in your tooth goes past enamel and into the dentine then your dentine may pick up stains more readily and go dark. As the dentine is softer, it is more prone to dental decay causing a black tooth. You should see a dentist at the earliest. 

If the chip goes through to the pulp, this will be an extremely painful condition, and you may even see blood from the chip. If left untreated, not only could you be extremely painful, but the tooth could begin to die and will almost go entirely black. You will need to see your emergency dentist as soon as possible.

What is The Outlook for Black Teeth?

If your dentist can intervene early enough to save your tooth, you must adopt good dental hygiene habits. Maintaining good hygiene habits can help prevent stains, tartar, or decay from forming again. 

Examples of these hygiene habits include:

  • You can try using fluoridated toothpaste. Also, brush your teeth at least twice daily.
  • Also, floss your teeth or use an interdental brush at least once a day.
  • You should make regular dentist visits as recommended by your dentist. This may be from every four to six months. Some who have severe decay may need to make an appointment more often.
  • In addition, eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid sugary beverages and foods because sugar attracts decay-causing bacteria.
  • Moreover, avoiding chronic dry mouth that might occur due to taking certain medications or having an underlying medical condition. The saliva and moisture help wash away harmful bacteria, so a person with a dry mouth is likely to develop decay. 

With excellent dental care moving forward, ideally, you can prevent black teeth from happening again.