Black teeth were once considered beautiful in some parts of the world. Women in Japan and Vietnam, for instance, would deliberately paint their teeth black. Nowadays, this is less common. In Western countries, white teeth are highly prized and whitening treatments are becoming popular. Teeth can vary in colour from yellow, grey, shades of white and black. For most people, black teeth stains are undesirable and may affect self-esteem and confidence. If your teeth are badly stained, you may find yourself avoiding social events, talking and smiling.
How are Black Teeth Stains Caused?
Enamel (the hard outer layer of teeth) is generally white due to its calcium content. As enamel wears, the dentin layer underneath can start to show through. This makes teeth seem darker in colour.
Black teeth stains can occur due to ‘extrinsic’ factors that happen to the outside of the teeth, and ‘intrinsic’ factors which occur inside the teeth.
Poor oral hygiene causes tartar to build up. Some tartar can be coloured black. In addition, the build-up of tartar can lead to decay and cavities. Tiny cavities or holes can appear like dark spots. It’s also worth noting that old amalgam fillings look black, too.
Teeth can stain. Coffee, coke and tea can discolour teeth. Lots of dark coloured food and drink products have the ability to stain enamel.
Another major reason for dark coloured stains is tobacco use. Smoking or chewing tobacco is one of the worst things you can do if you want to keep your teeth white. Tobacco use will result in significant staining.
Unfortunately, some medications can stain teeth. Liquid iron supplements are just one example.
Treating Black Teeth Stains
If your teeth are stained by tobacco or the types of food and drink you consume, changing your habits can help prevent further staining. However, the stains will need to be examined and treated by a dentist to identify the cause and resolve the issue.
If tartar is causing staining, this needs to be removed. This can only be done by a dentist who will use specialised tools like scalers or even ultrasound to break the tartar away.
If decay is the reason for staining, your dentist will need to clear the decay and restore the tooth. Sometimes a filling will be sufficient but if the decay is significant, they may need to carry out root canal treatment and create a crown for the tooth. In the very worst-case scenario, your dentist may suggest removing the tooth.
Black staining can be removed, but again, this should be carried out by a dentist.
Preventing Black Teeth Stains
Like most things, prevention is better than cure. If smoking has stained your teeth, try to quit. There are more reasons to stop smoking rather than continue with the habit. Smoking also increases the risk of oral cancers and slows natural healing which is an important consideration if you are having any dental procedures.
It’s also important to have regular dental check-ups. This allows your dentist to examine and monitor your teeth and identify any signs of decay that will need to be treated.
To avoid the build-up of tartar, remember to brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. In order to maintain white teeth, you can use some ‘brightening’ toothpastes but remember than any underlying cause for stained or dark teeth needs to be fixed first.
It’s also important to floss your teeth each day. Flossing removes food and debris that gets stuck in the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. If left behind, tartar can start to form in the crevices.
You can minimise the risk of decay by eating a diet rich in nutrients and vitamins. Try to include fruit, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Avoid sugary food and drinks which attract bacteria that can damage tooth enamel.
If you do consume a lot of tea, coffee and wine, you could consider using a straw, or at least rinse your mouth with water afterwards. It’s important to drink plenty of water each day, especially if you are taking medication or are prone to having a dry mouth. Saliva is important as it helps remove bacteria.
By reviewing your habits, making some changes to your lifestyle and working with your dentist, you can keep your teeth healthy and white. It is possible to have a bright, white smile and boost your confidence too.
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