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11 Main Causes of Black Stains on Teeth

You have reasons to worry if you see black stains on your teeth. Not because you have done something wrong but because the stains may indicate something is wrong with your mouth.

This post will explain the following:

  • What can cause stains on your teeth
  • What can you do to treat them
  • How to prevent black stains from happening again
  • How long it takes for a tooth to go black
  • Can you treat your black tooth at home?

Let’s get started.

Black Stains on Teeth: 11 Main Causes

1. Cavities have caused black stains on your teeth

Your tooth may have stains or turn black simply because of internal problems. One of those problems can be cavities.

Cavities are also called caries or tooth decay. They can permanently damage the enamel of your teeth, gradually making holes in them.

Read: How to Stop Root Cavities

2. Bacterial infection can turn teeth black

Bacteria may have leaked into your tooth’s pulp and damaged its root.

They can enter your teeth through the holes created by cavities. Gradually, those holes grow more extensive and deeper, challenging the overall health of your mouth.

3. Pulp infection is a major cause of tooth discoloration

When bacteria reach the tooth’s pulp chamber and cause infection, you need a root canal treatment. You may also need a crown to seal the holes based on the tooth’s location.

The pulp is the innermost part of your tooth. It contains blood vessels, nerves, and non-calcified tissues. These tissues are soft and can easily fall victim to bacterial attacks.

However, bacteria can enter your teeth through any cracks or chips too. They can grow abundantly in the plaques and slowly find their way into the pulp and the apex of the tooth root.

4. Previous dental work has gone wrong

Bacteria might enter your teeth if you previously had a composite filling or root canal treatment.

Your composite fillings may fail one day. No dental work is 100% error-free. Most medical surgeries have an error rate of 2% to 5%. That is why you have to sign a consent paper before any surgery.

According to the American Association of Endodontists, “a tooth that has been treated doesn’t heal properly and can become painful or diseased months or even years after treatment.”

That happens if your body’s capacity to heal is low.

In addition, your crowns may crack or break under tremendous pressure. This can happen due to teeth misalignment or biting hard food or objects.

If any of these applies to you, you may have black stains on your teeth, or your affected tooth may turn black.

5. You are into crystal meth

This highly addictive drug may turn your teeth black. When that happens, the condition is called ‘meth mouth.’

6. Oral iron supplements can turn teeth black

If you have to take iron supplements doses to help prevent anemia, your teeth may turn black. The supplement intake may last two to three months, a good enough duration to discolor your teeth.

7. Tobacco consumption has never been teeth-friendly

Consumption of excessive tobacco can leave black stains on your teeth.

8. Coffee: cut it

Drinking coffee may turn your teeth gray. Other harmful habits may intensify the impact resulting in stains on your teeth.

9. Dental crown filling may add a black shade to your teeth

If your crown filling is made of silver sulfide, your teeth may look black.

10. Into pigmented mouthwash? The result may be stained teeth

If your mouthwash is pigmented, it may leave your teeth discolored. If it contains chlorhexidine gluconate, your teeth may temporarily look black.

Chlorhexidine gluconate is a prescription material. It is used prescribed to treat gum disease.

11. Acidic food: avoid them to have nice and white teeth

Eating highly acidic food may thin your enamel and cause your teeth to break down or crack over time. Once the teeth become weak, all sorts of troubles start in your mouth. Having black stains on your teeth may be one of those troubles.

Also Read: Acid Reflux Disease and Tooth Erosion

What can you do when you have black stains on your teeth?

Without severe trauma or direct use of unwanted substances, teeth rarely turn black overnight. You will notice that your teeth are becoming yellow and then gradually black. You may have some idea where it is coming from.

If you are a coffee drinker or smoker, changing your habits may help improve the situation.

If the stains remain the same or intensify further, you should contact a dentist.

Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Using teeth-whitening toothpaste may not be the best idea because you need to know the root cause of the stains. Besides, it needs a long time to see any effect of the whitening formula on your teeth. By that time, the situation may become drastically complicated for you.

Following DIY teeth whitening ideas like applying baking soda and lemon juice mix onto your teeth may be tempting. But they may deteriorate the health of your teeth, as you should never use any acidic product on teeth that have lost a part of their enamel.

A dentist can look into your mouth from the viewpoint of an experienced practitioner to identify the root cause of the stains and recommend the appropriate treatment procedure for you.

Also Read: How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost in 2023?

My tooth has turned black. Do I have a dead tooth?

It is not easy to say if your tooth is dead or dying from how it looks. Teeth can be discolored for many reasons. However, it is also true that a dead tooth will look discolored. That is because it is not getting enough blood to stay alive. Your blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to your teeth.

If one of your teeth looks darker than the rest, you have a reason to be worried. Using a pigmented mouthwash, medication, and habits like smoking and drinking coffee should have similar effects on your teeth.

If one tooth looks darker or has excessive stains you cannot remove following your daily brushing schedule, it may be that tooth is dying or already dead.

What does a dead tooth look like?

A dying tooth may receive any of the following colors based on when you notice the discoloration:

  • Black
  • Gray
  • Yellow
  • Light-brown

Experts believe the affected tooth turns yellow first and then becomes gray, turning black as it dies.

Teeth may die from tooth decay and trauma. Whatever the reason, the danger may spread to other teeth if the condition is left untreated.

What are the dental procedures to treat a dead tooth?

Upon examination, if your dentist believes that your tooth is dying, you have two options.

  1. If the tooth is only infected and still has a chance to heal, your dentist may recommend root canal treatment.
  2. If the tooth is dead, you may want to pull it out instead of leaving it as t is.

Root canal treatment

Your dentist will remove the infected pulp from the canals and then seal the canals with composite fillings. The procedure includes creating an opening into your tooth to access its root. You will most likely need a crown on your tooth after the procedure.

According to the Tufts School of Dental Medicine, the costs of root canals and fillings vary based on the tooth and the complexity of the treatment.

However, they suggest the following costs to their patients as a reference.

Root Canal$1,224

Related: Cost of Root Canal in Major US Cities and Abroad

Removal of the black tooth

The other option for you is to extract the affected tooth.

Dentists recommend the removal of your dead tooth so that it does not affect your healthy teeth. An untreated infection may quickly spread to other areas of the mouth, including your gums, throat, tongue, and jawbones.

You may choose a dental implant or a bridge following the extraction so that the socket does not dry up and adjacent teeth do not slide into it.

A dry socket is not life-threatening but may lead to bacterial infection if left untreated.

Preventing your teeth from having stains and turning black

Do the following as much as you can.

  • Change your habits. Stop drinking coffee. If you must drink, wash your mouth after drinking coffee.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid drinking fruit juice. They are sugary and give life to dangerous bacteria.
  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Use toothpaste and mouthwash recommended by your dentist
  • Eat balanced food so your teeth get the nutrition they need to remain alive and healthy.
  • Stop biting nails or hard objects such as a pencil with your teeth.
  • If you are in the habit of teeth grinding, wear a mouthguard at night.

But the above may not be enough to keep your teeth healthy. Tooth discoloration may not be treated at home. You need a professional touch.

  • If you have a black tooth, consult your dentist.
  • If your teeth have professionally been whitened, follow your dentist’s recommendation to keep them white.
  • Do not miss your appointments with your dentist. They are too important.

Black stains on teeth: FAQs

Do you need to see a dentist for a black stain stuck between or behind your teeth, or can you remove it at home?

You likely need to see a dentist if you cannot remove the stain with regular brushing and flossing. Teeth whitening systems from your local supermarket have their limits. They have abrasive scores and may even be dangerous for your teeth. Besides, you may harm your enamel without knowing how much is left on your teeth. In addition, you may be unable to tell if the stain results from an internal cause of the tooth or if it is external and removable.

Why do teeth turn black?

Your teeth may turn black for different reasons, some related to the teeth and some external. If you have tooth decay, bacteria may cause infection in the tooth’s pulp and eventually kill it. Your previous root canal treatment may have helped bacteria leak into the pulp. External reasons include trauma, drinking coffee and pigmented juice, smoking, medication, drug abuse, and excessive consumption of acidic drinks, including soda.


  • American Association of Endodontists. “Endodontic Retreatment Explained.”
  • University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). “Chlorhexidine (CHG) Bathing to Prevent Healthcare-Linked Infections.”
  • Healthline. “Identifying and Treating a Dead Tooth.”
  • Tufts School of Dental Medicine. “Price Comparison Guide.”

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