Black staining on teeth is a sign of an underlying dental issue that can be caused by various factors. While the cause of black stains on teeth might range from poor oral hygiene to medication use, finding out what causes them for you and the available treatment options is the first step to better oral health.
If you’re concerned about black stains on your teeth and want to improve your smile, read on to learn more about these stains and how you can get on the right track for healthier teeth.
What Do Black Stains On Your Teeth Mean?
Teeth are typically a pearly white to white-yellow color, depending on the amount of calcium in the enamel and the underlying dentin. While enamel thins naturally over time, black stains can occur due to a variety of reasons, including:
- Poor oral hygiene: Plaque buildup and cavities can cause black stains.
- Teeth grinding: Habitual teeth grinding can wear down the enamel, which reveals the dark layer of dentin underneath.
- Medication use: Certain medications like tetracycline and doxycycline contain a compound that causes the darkening of tooth enamel.
- Smoking: Cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products can leave behind stubborn black stains on teeth.
- Aging: As we age, our tooth enamel wears down more quickly, exposing the darker layer of dentin underneath.
There are also different kinds of black stains, from black dots on teeth to black gums around teeth. For example, a black line stain on teeth is usually an indication that certain minerals have been fossilized into the tartar.
On the other hand, black gums can be a sign of gum disease. When gum disease is present, it can lead to inflammation and infection that cause the gums to darken in color.
Common Causes Of Black Stains On Teeth
Most black stains on teeth are caused by plaque buildup, cavities, smoking, medication use, certain foods and drinks, and age-related wear. Let’s dive deeper into three of the most common causes:
Smoking Tobacco Or Drinking Coffee
Both smoking tobacco and drinking coffee can lead to black stains on your teeth. Tobacco smoke contains tar, nicotine, and other chemicals that will adhere to the surface of your teeth. Once exposed to oxygen, nicotine turns yellow or brown, and because the enamel is porous, these chemicals get caught inside your teeth.
Coffee is a highly acidic beverage that can wear down enamel over time, leaving behind dark discoloration. The substance responsible for coffee’s staining power is tannic acid, which can create that irreversible discoloration. Just like with tobacco, the tannic acid seeps into the enamel and stays there.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Plaque buildup caused by poor oral hygiene is another common cause of black staining between teeth. When plaque accumulates, bacteria feed off the sugars in your mouth and produce acid, which can erode enamel. This erosion can result in discoloration that may appear as yellow or black spots on your teeth.
Inadequate brushing can also lead to discoloration of teeth. When plaque builds up and isn’t removed, it turns into black tartar on teeth, which is extremely difficult to remove without professional help. Tartar collects stains from food and beverages and will darken your teeth over time. This is because it has a rougher texture, which makes it easier for stains to stick.
What It Can Lead To If You Ignore It
While black stains might initially seem like just a cosmetic issue, they can lead to more serious dental problems if not addressed.
Chromogenic bacteria is a type of bacteria that can cause black stains on teeth. It forms in areas with poor oral hygiene and produces dark pigments when it metabolizes sugar. This type of bacteria can result in bad breath, yellow or black spots on the teeth, and gum inflammation. If ignored, it can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Left untreated, the plaque buildup can lead to tooth decay and cavities. If you notice any signs of black stains on your teeth, it is important to see a dentist for an evaluation so that further damage can be prevented.
Keep in mind there are times when black stains from decay cannot be removed, such as if the decay reaches beneath the tooth enamel or the dentin. At this point, a root canal is usually required.
Types Of Stains
Both extrinsic and intrinsic factors can cause damage to your teeth. Extrinsic damage can be from anything that affects the outer enamel. Intrinsic damage is more serious, as the decay and damage start from the inside of the tooth and progress outward.
Intrinsic stains are caused by damage that has already occurred inside the tooth. Some of the causes of intrinsic staining can include:
- Cavities or tooth decay
- Antibiotics such as tetracycline and doxycycline
- Trauma to a tooth, such as a hit or a fall
These types of stains are usually more difficult to remove than extrinsic stains, as they penetrate deeper into the enamel. Intrinsic stains can also appear as black spots or discoloration.
Extrinsic stains are caused by staining agents on the surface of the teeth, such as coffee and tobacco. These cause a yellow or brown discoloration that is visible on the enamel. Other causes of extrinsic staining can include:
- Certain fruits and vegetables
- Bacteria in your mouth
- Medications like antibiotics and antihistamines
These types of stains can be more easily removed than intrinsic stains, but they may still require professional care to remove.
How To Get Rid Of Black Stains On Teeth
There are many benefits of white teeth, including improved self-confidence, better oral hygiene, and a more attractive smile. If you’re looking to get rid of dark stains on your teeth, the first step is to determine what’s causing them.
Once the cause has been identified, there are a few treatment options available.
In-office bleaching is a professional dental treatment that uses special whitening agents to eliminate surface discoloration and stains. The procedure usually takes about an hour, during which time the dentist will apply a protective gel to your gums before applying the whitening agent. After the session is finished, patients can expect their teeth to be several shades brighter.
At-Home Teeth Whitening
At-home teeth whitening kits are also available to help eliminate black stains on your teeth. These products typically contain peroxide-based gels that you brush onto your teeth for several minutes a day, depending on the product instructions. The bleaching agents in these kits can remove surface discoloration caused by extrinsic factors.
While these at-home products can be a great way to cut down on teeth whitening cost, they may not be as effective against intrinsic stains caused by decay or trauma.
Special Whitening Procedure
In cases where the black stains on teeth are more severe, a special whitening procedure may be recommended. This type of whitening is usually done in a professional setting and uses stronger bleaching agents than those found in at-home kits. Your dentist will likely take a closer look at your teeth and determine the best resolution for you.
Learned a lot, but still have some questions? We’ve answered a few common ones below.
Can Home Remedies Remove Stains?
Natural teeth whitening remedies such as baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice can help to remove stains from teeth on the surface. However, these methods may be too abrasive or acidic for some people’s enamel and should not replace professional dental care.
What Food Causes The Most Stains On Teeth?
Foods that are high in acidity or contain strong pigments (think: coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-colored fruits) can cause staining on teeth. Eating these foods and drinks in moderation is the best way to prevent staining. As well, you can also rinse with water or brush your teeth afterward to reduce the amount of staining that occurs.
Are Black Stains On Teeth Permanent?
The good news is that black stains on teeth are not usually permanent. With proper care, you can get rid of the discoloration and restore your teeth to their original state. Unfortunately, intrinsic staining caused by cavities or trauma may not be able to be removed completely. This would mean that you may need more intensive treatments, such as veneers or crowns, to restore the appearance of your teeth.
How Do I Remove Black Stains From Teeth Naturally?
The best way to remove black stains from teeth naturally is through good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly can help prevent the buildup of plaque, which can cause dark discoloration on your teeth. In addition, using an abrasive toothpaste or baking soda mixed with lemon juice can help scrub away surface staining. Overall, prevention is the key to avoiding black stains on teeth.
Are Black Stains On Teeth Normal?
Black stains on teeth can be caused by various factors, including poor oral hygiene, certain foods and drinks, smoking and tobacco use, aging, genetics, and more. It's usually a sign that something is wrong, and it's important to see a dentist for further evaluation. While it’s not normal to have black stains on your teeth, they are a common issue that can usually be addressed through professional treatment or teeth whitening options.
What Is The Best Option To Remove Stains On Teeth?
The best option to remove stains on teeth depends on the severity of the stain and what caused it. In-office bleaching is typically the most effective way to eliminate surface staining, but teeth whitening kits can also help. For more serious discoloration due to intrinsic factors, a special whitening procedure may be recommended by your dentist.
Do Teeth Stains Go Away?
Again, this depends on the cause of the stains. If they’re caused by extrinsic factors, such as staining from food or drink, then yes, they can go away with proper brushing and whitening treatments. But if the black stains are due to intrinsic factors like decay or trauma, then it is unlikely that they will go away without professional treatment. But don't be discouraged - there are plenty of ways to treat and restore your teeth, including fillings, crowns, and veneers.