Even if you clean your teeth thoroughly through regular brushing and flossing, stains or spots can still develop on your teeth. While some types of discolouration may not be serious - apart from their aesthetic effect - dark or black tooth stains may actually indicate something more serious like an infection inside the tooth. Dark patches on your teeth are not always due to tooth decay. Black spots also represent tartar or calculus that forms on the teeth. Stains can naturally appear if your diet includes a lot of tea and coffee. The best thing to do if you notice black stains on your teeth is to book in for a dental appointment for a full dental health examination. We can investigate to see if the stains are just superficial stains that happen over time or are down to deeper discolouration through dental decay.
But can we then get rid of black stains? The answer is yes but how we tackle discolouration and stains depends on the type and the cause. This blog will go into the different types of staining and how we can remove it.
Why do teeth lose their whiteness?
It’s down to a combination of factors. Our teeth pick up stains naturally over time through the types of food and drink we consume. Other habits, such as smoking, also contribute to staining the white enamel of the teeth. Natural staining, which doesn’t necessarily impact the health of the teeth, causes yellowing of the teeth over time. Even if you aren’t a smoker or drinking many cups of coffee a day, your teeth will gradually lose their pearly white shine. This process takes many years as we age.
On top of natural staining, our teeth get darker and more yellow with age down to time. The white enamel wears away, exposing the darker hue of the tooth’s dentin underneath. Tooth whitening can reverse this gradual darkening of teeth.
Black stains around the gum line
Most tooth stains develop on the visible “crown” portion of the teeth. However, if you have black staining near your gums, it is a characteristic sign of tartar formation on the tooth. Tartar or dental calculus forms when plaque around the gum line isn’t properly removed through brushing and flossing at home.
What is tartar?
Tartar or dental calculus begins to form if plaque build-ups between the teeth or around the gums isn’t properly cleaned off through regular brushing and flossing. Tartar is a deposit left by the bacteria in the plaque, a hard substance that can’t be removed through conventional brushing. It also leaves a rough surface which causes more food particles to get trapped on the surface of the tooth, leading to more bacteria.
Plaque appears as a yellowish, rough film that builds on the surface of the teeth day-in day-out as bacteria forms where there are deposits of sugar on your teeth. Food deposits become havens for bacteria to form which is why regular brush and flossing is essential for defending your teeth and gums from bacteria. Otherwise, apart from unaesthetic appearance, the acids released from the harmful bacteria inside the plaque and tartar will lead to gum disease and dental decay.
How to remove tartar from the teeth?
You will need to arrange for a hygienist appointment to properly remove tartar. Trips to the hygienist will not only remove surface level stains but also reform plaque build-ups which lead to tartar forming. We recommend that you visit a hygienist every six months to protect your smile from tartar build ups and gum disease.
During a standard hygienist appointment, most surface tartar stains are professionally cleaned with a ‘scale and polish’. This effectively uses a jet of concentrated water, and sometimes a fine grit, to loosen up tartar deposits on the dental enamel. Using a curette, your hygienist can then remove the tartar and polish off the tooth, leaving the surface free of black stains.
Deep, professional cleaning also removes more than just the tartar. If there are natural stains trapped in the surface of the tooth that your toothbrush can’t dislodge, a scale and polish will lift these off, leaving your teeth spotless.
How to remove deep natural stains from teeth
Some various foods and drinks can stain teeth. Most common among them include curries, pasta sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and berries. These items contain ingredients that can adhere to the tooth surface - the tooth enamel - and remain there for a long time, despite brushing.
While there are many ways to remove tooth stains, the method that best suits your case depends on the type and cause of staining. For example, if your teeth have dark or black spots due to extrinsic staining caused by excessive tea or coffee intake, your dentist may recommend in-office bleaching or at-home whitening. Similarly, if the black spots are due to staining of the calculus adhering to your teeth, a professional hygiene procedure followed with teeth whitening would give the best results.
What is tooth whitening?
Fortunately, modern dentistry offers various options to remove teeth stains. At De-ientes Dental, we offer home whitening kits that use custom-made moulds of your teeth to evenly spread a whitening agent across the surfaces off your teeth. These whitening kits gradually remove stains that are under the surface of the tooth enamel, using a safe chemical process that releases oxygen molecules to loosen up stain particles.
Alternatively to home whitening, you can opt for in-surgery whitening. This process combines the bleaching process with a UV light that speeds up the whitening. In-surgery whitening is much faster, but is also more expensive than home whitening. Whitening is also not permanent as stains will continue to return naturally throughout your everyday life. Keeping your whitening kits and buying top-ups will let you keep your white smile for longer.
Some teeth stains are permanent and can’t be removed through bleaching as they are deep in the tooth structure. They can, however, be covered up. Your dentist will cosmetically mask these stains by using porcelain veneers or crowns in these cases.
Can black marks and discoloration from dental decay and infection be removed?
Dental decay can lead to black stains within the tooth structure, especially if the tooth also becomes infected and we have to take steps to save the tooth. These stains are treated with internal whitening which we apply to the tooth as part of endodontic treatment. If the discolouration is extensive, we can replace the tooth with a natural-looking porcelain or ceramic crown. We also use white fillings to repair damage and cover up stains left from a cavity or infection.
If you have any teeth that have been left with black marks following dental treatment, we can talk about restorative options to bring your confidence back.
The best time to talk to us about stains and marks on your teeth that are causing you concern is during your check-up. You can book an appointment using our online booking service here.
Wish to whiten your smile and gain confidence?
At De-ientes Dental, we take pride in having a highly qualified team of dental professionals that can take care of all your cosmetic, general dentistry problems. So, what are you waiting for? Book an appointment with us today for a free consultation, and let us help you get rid of your tooth stains.