Causes, consequences, and treatment for black teeth. Learn what you should definitely do if you have a black tooth

For many, yellow teeth are an unpleasant and noticeable sign that your dental hygiene is not optimal. Especially if you drink a lot of coffee or black tea and/or smoke, you are more likely to suffer from discolored teeth.

But it becomes even more noticeable when your teeth turn black.

  • The causes of this are very different. I will explain the different reasons for black teeth and show you what consequences it can have for you.
  • In any case, I advise you to visit your dentist to avoid further discomfort.

In addition, I go into more detail about the treatment and prevention methods, so you can prevent the appearance of black teeth right away, or in the case of already existing black teeth know what you can do about it.

Black teeth caused by a dead tooth

The most common form of teeth turning black is the death (necrosis) of the tooth tissue (pulp). Therefore, this condition is also known as pulp necrosis.

Black teeth causes

Tooth death is one of the most common causes of black teeth.

When a tooth dies, meaning it is no longer supplied with blood, it gradually turns dark until it eventually appears black.

Because a dying tooth often no longer has any pain sensation, it can go unnoticed to you for a long time. Only when the black coloration appears as an unsightly effect will you become aware of the damage.

How to tell if you have a dead tooth:

  • The affected tooth turns black.
  • It usually does not cause a toothache because the nerves have already died.
  • The tooth becomes brittle and fragile – when chewing hard food splinters can come out.
  • The surrounding gums may become red and inflamed.

For dentists, pulp necrosis is a real hotbed for disease in the surrounding tissues. Because if bacteria spread from this rotten tooth into surrounding tissue, further dental disease, increased tooth decay or even infection of distant organs can be the result.

Note:If you suspect a dead tooth, you should have it examined by a dentist as soon as possible.

If the tooth is indeed a dead tooth, your dentist will recommend root canal treatment. In this procedure, he or she will remove dead tissue, clean the affected area, and then seal the tooth to protect you from infection.

Tooth death and possible consequences

On the other hand, if you leave the tooth untreated, bacteria can continue to spread in your mouth, affecting more teeth and accelerating the decay process.

  • Furthermore, the surrounding gums may hurt and become red and inflamed from the stress. Thus, bleeding occurs more easily when brushing teeth in the region and, in the worst case, this leads to the recession of the gums (periodontitis).
  • In rare cases, bacteria can even reach distant organs via the bloodstream and cause secondary infections and further diseases.

If your tooth is already dead, it can not be saved in any case, because the dead tissue can not be renewed.

However, you can ensure that you can continue to use the tooth via root canal treatment followed by crowning.

If, however, necrosis has progressed to the point where large parts of the tooth are missing, then a crown or filling will no longer be sufficient and your tooth will have to be removed to prevent infection.

In this case, you will have to consider a tooth replacement.

Since this is a health problem, the cost of treatment is usually covered in whole or in part by your health insurance.

How to prevent tooth death

A lot has to happen before a tooth dies. Of course, a tooth can be injured so severely at any time in an accident that, for example, the blood supply is severed.

But the natural process of tooth decay is relatively long and will signal to you in advance several times, for example by a severe toothache, that something is wrong.

Bright smile thanks to dental floss

Take care of your dental health to prevent possible tooth death.

To ensure the health of your teeth, you need to maintain adequate dental hygiene and also take preventive checkups with your dentist seriously.

Here are a few tips for optimal oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth regularly and at least 2 times a day for 2 minutes.
  • Use mouth rinses and floss to effectively clean interdental spaces as well.
  • Reduce consumption of fruit juices and other acidic foods – or avoid them altogether.
  • Have tartar and plaque professionally removed by your dentist on a regular basis.
  • It is best to use an electric toothbrush or sonic toothbrush. These toothbrushes have already proven successful several times over manual toothbrushes.

Tip: The best electric toothbrush models are currently the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean, the Oral-B Smart 5000 & the Oral-B Pro 6000.

Electric toothbrush

With electric toothbrushes, you brush much more thoroughly, unlike conventional toothbrushes.

You will usually become aware of the affected tooth before it turns black. This is because before the tooth tissue and nerves in the tooth die, you will feel an extreme toothache – a final attempt by your body to alert you to an urgent problem.

Only when the tooth has died does the decay process begin, which is responsible for the black discoloration.

But with regular preventive and checkup visits to the dentist, you can prevent this situation from the very beginning.

Black teeth due to melanodontia (black stain)

Another cause of black teeth is the so-called melanodontia – colloquially known as black stain.

Melanodontia is the term used to describe black residue and stains on the teeth that are more prevalent around the margin to the gums.

Black teeth in children

Black teeth in children can also be due to a metabolic disorder

It is caused by discoloring bacteria that are deposited on the teeth. These bacteria are caused by a combination of salivary components containing iron and bacterial metabolites. Few people have the metabolites necessary for a reaction here in their blood.

While these reactions cause the black deposits on the teeth, which look unsightly and often lead to teasing, especially among children, they are harmless from a health point of view.

Info: This disease occurs very rarely (4% of all adolescents and children between 6 and 11 years). The disease does not usually occur in adults.

Researchers have not yet been able to figure out why this disease only appears until puberty – the disease is not found in adults. However, another interesting finding is that people who suffered from melanodontia when they were young are less likely to suffer from tooth decay later in life.

  • The discolorations occur mainly around the gums and extend over the tooth in a festoon shape.
  • Although they look unsightly, they are harmless to health.
  • Melanodontia has nothing to do with poor dental hygiene.

You can delay the occurrence of melanodontia by proper brushing, but it usually can not be prevented. Then you need to see a dentist, who can professionally remove the unsightly plaque.

Melanodontia (Black Stain) and possible consequences

As mentioned above, melanodontia has no negative health consequences.

But because the condition only occurs in children and adolescents, and even there only very rarely, the black teeth often lead to teasing, which can greatly jeopardize the child’s self-esteem.

Black teeth in children

Black teeth in children are not necessarily due to poor dental hygiene.

Studies have shown that adults who suffered from melanodontia in childhood are less likely to suffer from tooth decay than adults who did not experience melanodontia.

So at least the disease has a positive effect on dental health later in life, even if the causes have not yet been adequately researched.

What you can do about melanodontia

While the occurrence of melanodontia cannot be prevented if you have the bacteria and metabolites necessary for the reaction in your body, you can delay the symptoms through proper dental care.

  • Brush the teeth regularly particularly thoroughly to remove deposits early – for this, according to doctors, sonic toothbrushes, which can help out with a special Reinigunsleistung and often even a special polishing function.
  • Use mouthwashes to kill bacteria in the oral cavity – Also thereby you can slow down the reactions responsible for melanodontia.
  • Clean also the interdental spaces intensively – preferably with dental floss.
  • Perform regularly a professional dental cleaning at the dentist.

Once these discolorations appear on your teeth, however, you will not get rid of them with conventional brushing. Even with an electric toothbrush, the black spots can no longer be removed. Now you have to go to the dentist for professional removal.

Let the dentist clean black teeth

The dentist can reliably remove the plaque as well as tartar with special equipment.

So, for example, a powder jet procedure offers itself. The dentist cleans your teeth with a pressure jet mixture of water, sand and salt. This allows him to remove the unsightly discoloration painlessly and without risk to your tooth enamel.

The dentist can thoroughly clean your affected teeth.

Since melanodontia usually recurs, you need to have the cleaning done by the dentist on a regular basis. The reactions that cause the discoloration on the teeth occur with different frequency for each affected person.

So, after professional removal and with proper dental care, you may remain symptom-free for a long time, or cleaning will be necessary again every few months or every six months.

Melanodontia is not a health-threatening disease, but is merely perceived as unaesthetic by those affected. Therefore, health insurance does not usually cover the cost of treatment. Under certain circumstances, you can receive subsidies through a dental supplementary insurance, if it covers melanodontia.

I recommend that you best speak with your health insurance provider for this.

Summary: What helps with black teeth

In adults, black discolored teeth are often the results of tooth tissue that has died (tooth death) due to decay or accidents

black teeth treatment

With black teeth, only a dentist can help.

This discoloration can be removed by dentists as part of a root canal treatment and sealed with crowns and fillings.

  • If, however, tooth decay has progressed to the point where large portions of the tooth are missing or blackened, the tooth must be extracted and replaced.
  • Do not leave such a tooth untreated. Because bacteria can multiply here and spread to the rest of your mouth.

In children, in the case of black residue on otherwise well-maintained teeth, it is mainly melanodontia. The disease is caused by bacteria and leads to unsightly black deposits on the teeth.

Black teeth in children

In children, black teeth are temporary and disappear after puberty.

The disease usually disappears with puberty, and then has the side effect that the affected person later suffers less from tooth decay than people without previous melanodontia disease. The exact correlations have not yet been adequately researched.

  • The disease occurs very rarely and is largely dependent on the metabolism of the affected person. Melanodontia has no health risks, which is why health insurance companies often do not cover the cost of removal.
  • You can have the black deposits removed with a professional teeth cleaning. This is especially recommended because children are often the target of teasing due to the appearance.

In both cases, you can prevent disease through proper dental care. If melanodontia deposits are already present, the dentist must remove them professionally – normal tooth brushing is no longer sufficient here.

Further recommendations

Both for general dental health and preventive treatment of possible melanodontia, I recommend that you always clean your teeth thoroughly.

Instead of an ordinary manual toothbrush, I recommend you use an electric toothbrush, like the Oral-B Genius 8000, which simply cleans better than a regular toothbrush. In addition, it has a nice polishing feature that helps remove unsightly plaque from your teeth early.


Use an oral irrigator to clean interdental spaces quickly and effectively. Read the detailed comparison of oral irrigators in our test report

In addition to brushing yourself, you should regularly use mouthwash and dental floss to effectively clean interdental spaces as well. If that is too much effort for you, you can also use an oral irrigator.

Avoid fruit juices, coffee and cigarettes, as they are responsible for unsightly plaque and secondary diseases.

Visit the dentist regularly – preventive checkups eliminate most problems before they arise. Professional teeth cleaning is more effective and reliable than just brushing your teeth – no matter how well you brush.

Don’t cut corners. While things like an ultrasonic toothbrush or sonic toothbrushes like the Sonicare DiamondClean Smart may seem very expensive at first – extensive basic dental restoration and comprehensive dentures end up costing more.

You can find more information on proper dental care in the guide to healthy and white teeth.