There are several reasons why a tooth may begin appearing black in colour. Some might can be cosmetic, while others can become quite severe if left untreated.
Contributing factors that cause a black tooth may include;
- Gradual staining
- Bacterial buildup
- Decay from damaged enamel or tartar buildup
- Tooth trauma, such as impact to the tooth
- Metal fillings or dental crowns that contain silver sulfide
- Bruised or dead tooth
Black tooth discolouration can also be attributed to direct causes such as:
- The frequent consumption of dark foods and drinks
- Certain medications
- Uses particular mouthwashes or toothpaste
- Tobacco. Further research has found that other recreational drugs can drastically effect the heath of teeth and gums. Drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy, amphetamines, methamphetamines, heroin, and replacement alternatives such as methadone can cause black teeth staining.
Black discolouration might be caused from underlying cavities or decay. Unfortunately in most situations this is unnoticeable to the patient in the mirror. As a result, this has been found to be the most common cause of a black tooth.
This further reinforces the importance of regular routine check-ups since dentists can thoroughly examine your teeth with dental utensils, mirrors and x-ray machines that are only available from a dental clinic.
Unless caused from sudden impact, which may damage the root or nerve of a tooth, it’s unlikely for teeth to suddenly appear black. Generally cosmetic stains or decay gradually develop over time with poor oral hygiene.
What is a bruised or Dead Tooth?
As a result from sudden high impact, that may have caused fracturing or chipping the nerve or root of the tooth may become damaged. This causes blood to rush to the area. From inflammation caused from the incident and blood traveling to the effected area, the tooth is cut off from blood flow. Unfortunately this may cause the tooth to internally “die”, therefore resulting in its distinctive black colour .
What is Black Tartar?
When bad bacteria builds up on particular areas, the collection of bacteria begins to form a substance known as plaque. Over time, if left untreated, plaque gradually hardens and becomes tartar also known as dental calculus. Tartar usually tends to glue and bond itself to the outer enamel of your teeth. The colour of tartar is usually either white or yellow, but depending upon the foods consumed or other oral health reasons, may at times be brown or black in colour.
Black tartar could be contributed by the following factors:
- Diets high in sugar
- Beverages with staining colours such as coffee, dark soft drinks, wine, or other dark drinks
- Damage to the tooth’s enamel
- Trauma or damage to the tooth’s enamel
Dentists are able to remove black tartar from teeth and the gum using a procedure known as scaling. This is performed using special dental instruments. If black tartar is noticeable in the mirror it is vital to have this removed as soon as possible as it may lead to gum disease.
How can a black tooth be treated?
There are different treatment methods that a dentist may propose for a black tooth. These may vary based upon the reasons that may have caused the darkening of the tooth to occur.
If the damage has travelled extensively throughout the tooth and effected the nerv, root canal therapy provided by an endodontist might be recommended. Endodontist specialize in treating the inside of the tooth known as dental pulp. In doing so, this will help save the natural tooth from potential extraction while also stopping pain caused by the infected tooth and gum.
If the blackening of the tooth or even surrounding teeth is on the surface, tooth whitening may help to lighten the shade of the colour. There are instances where a combination of tooth whitening and composite are used to revive the tooth. This procedure involves using teeth whitening to lighten the shade, almost like an undercoat method used by Painters, then composite resin is masked over the top.
Alternatively a dentist may recommend a dental crown or porcelain veneer as an outer shell to cover the blackened tooth. This procedure, particularly with a dental crown, involves shaving down the outer layer of the tooth and then placing a porcelain ceramic crown over the top. Dentists specifically match the colour of the ceramic crown or veneer to the surrounding teeth so that the restoration is indistinguishable to the eye.