A set of healthy white teeth can help build your smile and self-confidence, so having black stains or spots on your teeth is quite worrisome.
These spots can appear on your teeth for a variety of reasons. Before worrying about the aesthetic issues, you need to find out the exact cause and get the proper treatment.
Black spots can signify the start of a serious tooth problem or can be as a result of stains from different foods or drinks like tea, coffee or other beverages. The essence of the article is to discuss the causes of these spots and the available treatment options.
What Are The Causes Of Black Spots On My Teeth?
Black spots on your teeth can occur due to intrinsic causes (within the tooth) or extrinsic causes (from external sources).
Fluoride is available naturally in water and also toothpastes. If the intake becomes excessive when the teeth are being formed in its early stage, it results in a condition called fluorosis. This shows on the teeth as black or brown discoloration. This condition is only cosmetic and the teeth appear healthy unless they become decayed.
Certain antibiotics like tetracycline can cause black discoloration and stains on the teeth when given to young children less than 8 years of age. Also if given to pregnant women, it can cause discoloration of the baby’s teeth when they start forming. It usually affects the permanent teeth.
3. Celiac Disease
People with celiac disease which is a disease of the small intestine have teeth that are not properly developed. The appearance of white, yellow or black spots may be noticed on the teeth and these effects are permanent.
4. Pulp Necrosis
Trauma to the tooth can cause black discoloration on the affected tooth surface over time. This happens because the innermost layer of the tooth (the pulp), which contains the nerves and blood vessels, is affected and dies off – a condition called pulp necrosis.
One of the earliest signs of a cavity is a black spot on the tooth. These spots occur mostly on the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars and the cutting surfaces of the incisors. This cavity is caused by external factors such as high intake of refined sugars such as soda and candy, poor oral hygiene practices but it affects the tooth from the outside.
Tartar is also known as calculus. This is a bacterial plaque that forms on the surface of the teeth which has hardened over time and cannot be removed by your toothbrush. This build up is noticed at the gum line and can appear as a black band.
Certain foods, habits or medications can also cause black stains on the teeth.
• Eating or drinking dark food products like black tea, coffee, red wine or kola nut.
• Taking liquid iron supplement medication also known as ‘blood tonic’.
• Certain toothpastes and mouthwashes can cause black spots on the teeth over time.
• Smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products also cause black stains on the teeth.
• Tooth filling materials that are silver colored such as amalgam.
Apart from the noticeable black spots on the tooth, there may be other associated symptoms such as
• Bad breath
• Food packing on the tooth surface
•Throbbing tooth pain
• Gum swelling/ abscess
Treatment of Black Spots On Tooth
Depending on the cause, treatment of black spots on the tooth are as follows:
- Black spots as a result of stains from tea, coffee, tobacco, and the likes can be treated by professional cleaning at the dental clinic called scaling and polishing. Stain removal procedures using pumice can also be done in the clinic.
- Proper oral hygiene practices such as brushing twice daily with a medium textured toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride, flossing and using mouthwash can help to prevent plaque and tartar build up. Because tartar cannot be removed by your toothbrush, professional cleaning is recommended.
- If you have silver tooth filling materials on your tooth, discuss with your dentist on changing it to other tooth-colored filling material like composite, glass ionomer cements or even placing a crown on the tooth in cases of severe weakening of the tooth structure.
- If the black spot is as a result if a cavity, then your dentist will fill the tooth. If the damage is extensive, then a root canal or extraction of the tooth will be carried out.
- Teeth whitening can also be done. This is a procedure that is done to whiten the teeth using a gel that contains hydrogen peroxide. This method can also be used for intrinsic stains but is more effective for extrinsic stains. The whitening procedure can be done in a dental clinic. They are also sold over the counter in some pharmacies as a whitening kit but they have to be used under proper supervision by your dentist.
- If the discoloration is due to pulpal necrosis, a root canal treatment is done first to treat the infected or dead pulp, then treatment to improve the appearance is done afterward.
Intrinsic causes of black spots usually require cosmetic treatment as the damage was done when the tooth was being formed. Treatment options include –
Veneers: These are materials made from composite or porcelain. They are layers of material placed over the teeth to improve their appearance.
Crowns: A crown, also known as a dental cap, is a material that is cemented over a tooth to completely cap it. They are usually made from acrylic, stainless steel or porcelain. They can also be placed on a heavily filled tooth to give the tooth extra strength and support.
How Do I Prevent Black Spots On My Teeth?
Black spots on teeth can be prevented in the following ways
1) Proper oral hygiene practices like brushing twice daily and flossing.
2) Visiting your dentist at least twice a year for routine checks and professional cleaning. Don’t wait until it gets really bad before going to the clinic.
3) Reducing your intake of refined sugars, soda, and other carbonated drinks. If you have to take them, make sure you brush your teeth, rinse your mouth with water or chew on sugar-free gum afterward. Chewing on gum helps to clean the teeth as saliva is being produced thereby minimizing the build-up of plaque. You can also use a straw to drink to minimize the contact between your teeth and the liquid.
4) Also limit your intake of tea, coffee or other colored food that can stain your teeth.
5) Programmes that help people quit smoking will be beneficial to prevent stains caused by smoking and other tobacco products.
6) Mouth guards should be worn, especially in people who engage in contact sports to prevent trauma to the teeth
7) Toothpastes, mouthwashes or liquid iron supplements that may cause black spots on the teeth should be avoided as much as possible.
8) Antibiotics such as tetracycline should not be given to children less than 8 yrs old or pregnant women so that it does not cause discoloration as the teeth are being formed.
Black spots are usually caused by a number of factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic. Ensure you visit your dentist on time if you notice any changes in the color and appearance of your teeth.