Have you had one or more teeth turn black? This can make you panic. Not only is it an unattractive look, it can make you concerned about your oral health.

And it’s good to be concerned: some black teeth can be a sign of serious oral health problems that should be addressed as soon as possible. Here are some of the potential causes of black teeth and what can be done about them.

pretty young woman hiding her smile with her hand while talking to a friend

Causes of Black Teeth

There are many potential causes that can turn your teeth black. Some of them are very serious concerns, while others may be mostly cosmetic problems. Potential causes include:

  • Stains
  • Tartar
  • Metal fillings
  • Decay
  • Tooth trauma

Stains build up over time, and it’s unlikely for a tooth to suddenly get black because of stains. However, if you eat staining foods, drinks, or use tobacco (especially smokeless tobacco), your teeth might actually turn black.

Tartar is hardened plaque that develops on your teeth and gums. This starts out a similar color to your tooth enamel, but it can also stain. In fact, it stains faster than your natural teeth because it’s made up of compounds that settle out of your saliva, which can include the staining molecules.
Metal fillings might start out silver, but when they rust, they turn black. This can actually make your entire tooth look black. To fix this problem, we should replace the metal fillings with tooth-colored fillings. We might even need to cover the tooth with a ceramic crown.

Tooth decay can also make your teeth blacken. As the enamel is damaged, it darkens, and if the bacteria contaminate the interior of the tooth, it can kill the tooth and make it turn black. Your tooth can also turn black as a result of trauma, which might also have killed the tooth.

Bruised and Dead Teeth

There are two common reasons why your tooth may have darkened. Sometimes the tooth is basically bruised. This may be nothing more than a cosmetic issue. On the other hand, your tooth could have turned black after you chipped it because the nerve inside died. Due to inflammation and blood rushing to the area, the damaged part of the tooth is cut off from blood flow. The inside of your tooth eventually “dies,” giving it that distinctive black color.

But what happens after your tooth turns black is even more of a concern than an unsightly smile. If you don’t address the issue, then you’re walking around with a pocket of dead tissue in your mouth. Without the support of your immune system, this tissue is open to attack by all of the bacteria that call your mouth home. This means infection– and infection, unless you take care of it quickly, means a serious health risk. Especially with a tooth, where the affected area has a straight-shot to the bones, nerves, and blood vessels in your head!

An infected tooth could infect other teeth, your sinuses, even your brain. Or the infection could spread via your blood to any part of the body.

Don’t Worry– There Are Solutions in Wichita Falls!

So what can you do about a chipped and blackened tooth? Well, depending on how bad it is, there are a couple of different solutions. If it’s bad enough, it might be time for a root canal, where a dentist or endodontist replaces infected tissue in your tooth with an inert substitute that lets you keep the tooth. It may never get that bad, though, especially if your tooth is simply discolored. Plenty of solutions exist to fix your tooth, from porcelain veneers to teeth whitening. Don’t give up hope on a blackened tooth! It may be that all it needs is some simple cosmetic correction.

If you’re worried about any of your teeth, either for health reasons or to fix more cosmetic issues, don’t hesitate to contact StarImage Dentistry today online or on the phone at 940-322-2252 for an appointment with one of our cosmetic dentists. Even if you’re not in the Wichita Falls area, we can still help answer any questions you may have. We believe that everyone deserves a beautiful smile, and we’d love to help you get yours back!