What causes teeth to turn black?

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What causes black teeth?

Teeth turn black from either extrinsic or intrinsic causes.

Teeth owe their color to the high amount of calcium found in the outer layer of the teeth, known as the enamel.

Over time, additional elements left behind by foods and drinks can start to make teeth yellow or gray. If the teeth turn black, however, a person should visit a dentist as soon as possible.

Extrinsic causes

Woman with black teeth <br>Image credit: Calvin Smith, 2009</br>

Black teeth may be caused by tartar buildup and stains.
Image credit: Calvin Smith, 2009

Extrinsic causes of the teeth turning black come from the outside of the tooth.

These can include:

  • damage to the enamel
  • stains
  • tartar buildup

Some direct causes of staining include:

  • frequently eating or drinking a dark food product, such as coffee
  • taking certain medications, such as liquid iron supplements
  • using certain mouth rinses and toothpastes
  • using tobacco
  • having crowns and fillings made with silver sulfide

Intrinsic causes

The tooth may appear black when damaged from the inside. The most common culprits of black teeth in these cases are decay or cavities. For example, a pulp infection or dead tooth may turn a tooth black.

The damage starts on the inside and works its way to the surface. The black color of the tooth may first appear in spots and eventually cover the entire tooth if left untreated.

If you notice any of the symptoms come in for a visit and we will examine the teeth, diagnose the underlying cause and will then determine the right treatment.

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Posted on Categories Did You Know, Oral Health, Preventive DentistryTags