What is a black tooth?


Normally, healthy teeth should be a slightly off-white color and as we get older, they begin to get more yellow due to age and staining. However, sometimes teeth can turn grey, and even black. When this happens it’s a sign that the tooth not only needs to be seen by a dentist, but that it might unfortunately, be dead.

Effectively, there are two main types of ‘black’ teeth. Teeth which are filled with an amalgam deposit can turn a light bluish-black shade. This is normally a sign that the dental filling has started to corrode. It’s not the tooth that’s black, but the formation of silver sulfide on the outside (amalgam fillings contain silver).

Unfortunately, in most other cases, a black tooth is a sign of tooth decay and death. Essentially, that black color is caused by the pulp and roots putrefying. The end result is normally a major infection / abscess. This whole process can be extremely painful or, alternatively it might be painless. Either way – a visit to the dentist is critical, because if an infection forms it might very well damage other teeth as well if a major infection occurs.

In children with milk-teeth, it’s so common to see them get bashed, and you might be surprised to learn that it can actually bruise the nerve. Luckily children’s teeth and gums are more resilient than adults thanks to their great immune systems, so in some cases the tooth will heal itself and return to the original color if the damage is not too severe. If however, the tooth stays black – a dentist will normally advise to remove it.

A black tooth is a sign that you need to visit a dentist no matter what the problem is. The only exception would be that of a root canal, where the interior of the tooth has been removed and because the tooth is dead; sometimes it can turn slightly black. Bleaching won’t help, the only way to lighten the tooth is to either get a crown, or ask your dentist to bleach the interior.

When teeth turn black, it’s a major warning sign, and one that needs to be taken heed of. Regular dental inspections by a dentist combined with good oral hygiene can prevent most teeth from dying. A dead tooth that’s gone black could very well transmit a major infection to anywhere else in your body. The risks can be great when a black tooth is left to decay and cause infection.

Just take into account the fact that teeth are just a few inches from the brain and then ask yourself whether or not that infection is worth worrying about! Treatment might require a root canal, or in some cases extraction, but even if the tooth can’t be saved, it will certainly prevent any further damage to the rest of your teeth and prevent illness and disease. As long as your gums are healthy, dental implants will be an option for extracted teeth.

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