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Black tartar can be a sign of underlying tooth decay or tooth decay that should be treated as soon as possible. The consumption of certain foods and drinks can leave a stain on the tooth's natural enamel that makes the teeth discolor.

What is tartar?

what is tartar

Tartar is formed from plaque but has a different texture to plaque and is not easy to remove. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), plaque is a mixture of saliva, bacteria, food, and bacterial acids produced from sugar and starch.

Plaque is usually stuck to the teeth but regular brushing and flossing somewhat can clean the surface of the teeth. If plaque is not removed, they will harden and form tartar. Only dental professionals can help you get rid of tartar since daily dental care activities cannot affect them. Both plaque and tartar can irritate the gums, cause inflammation and gum disease.

Read more: The importance of tartar removal

What creates tartar?

smoking causes black tartar

Black tartar is usually caused by one of two main causes:

External cause

Tartar can change color when external factors have negative effects, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Plaque buildup
  • Damaged enamel 
  • Using dental crowns and fillings containing silver sulfate
  • Regularly consuming dark-colored drinks or food, such as coffee, tea, and chocolate
  • Take antibiotics or liquid form of  iron supplements

Internal cause

The tooth may appear black when damaged from the inside. The most common culprits of black teeth in these cases are decay or cavities. For example, a pulp infection or dead tooth may turn a tooth black. The damage starts on the inside and works its way to the surface. The black color of the tooth may first appear in spots and eventually cover the entire tooth if left untreated.

Symptoms of black tartar

signs of black tartar

It is not normal for a tooth to quickly change from a whitish hue to black. In some cases, there will be some small brown or gray spots before the tooth starts to turn black. The most common place where black tartar usually appears is on the inner side or the surface of the molars. Tiny holes can form in the area of ​​tooth enamel destroyed.

Treatment for black tartar

tartar treatment

Treating black teeth at home is not usually possible. It requires professional treatment from the dentist. At the dental clinic, you will have a dental checkup to identify the underlying cause and the dentist will recommend treatments.

  • If tartar is black: Your dentist will try to remove tartar with special dental tools and ultrasonic instruments that can break apart the tartar, making it easier to remove.
  • If you have tooth decay: In the case of tooth decay, black tartar cannot be removed by simple cleaning. Thus, the dentist will have to remove the damaged part of the tooth.
  • When decay can’t be removed: Sometimes, if your tooth decay is quite severe, you will need to undergo root canal treatment and use porcelain crowns or dental implants to restore the teeth and bring back the aesthetics of your smile.

Prevention tips

prevent black tartar

Whether you are treating stained tartar or not, it is necessary to learn about some prevention tips to avoid the condition as well as other complications.

Some good habits for maintaining oral health include:

  • Have dental check-ups every 6 months
  • Do not smoke
  • Limit food and dark drinks intake, such as chocolate, coffee, soft drinks, black tea, etc.
  • Floss at least once per day
  • Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
  • Take a healthy diet like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and drinking enough water.

Reference source

What is Tartar? 6 Tips to Control Buildup .
What causes teeth to turn black?.


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