Black Tooth: Emergency Warning Signs & Treatment Options

Team Health Cages

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is a black tooth an emergency


In this blog, we talk about why a tooth can turn black. We look at different reasons, like tooth decay, accidents, or certain medicines. If you see your tooth turning black, it’s important to see a dentist. They can figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it. We also talk about when a black tooth is an emergency. If your tooth hurts a lot or swells up, you need to see a dentist right away. But if it doesn’t hurt and changes slowly, it might not be urgent, but you should still see a dentist. We also cover how a dentist can treat a black tooth, like cleaning it or doing a root canal. Taking care of your teeth is essential for your overall health, so it’s important to know how to deal with a black tooth when it happens.

In this blog, we discuss these topics:

Why Does a Tooth Turn Black?

A black tooth can happen for a few different reasons:

  • Tooth Decay When tiny bacteria in your mouth produce acid, it can eat away at your tooth’s outer layer called enamel. This creates small holes known as cavities. If these cavities aren’t treated, they can get bigger and deeper, eventually causing your tooth to turn black.
  • Injury Sometimes, if you accidentally bump your tooth hard, it can get injured. This might harm the blood vessels inside the tooth, making it appear black.
  • Dead Nerves Inside each tooth is something called pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. If this pulp becomes damaged or dies due to an infection or injury, the tooth can darken in color.
  • Medication Certain medications, especially some types of antibiotics like tetracycline, can cause tooth discoloration. This typically happens if the medicine is taken when teeth are still developing. The affected tooth might turn black or grayish.

If you notice that one of your teeth is turning black, it’s crucial to see a dentist as soon as possible. They can determine the cause of the discoloration and recommend the appropriate treatment to prevent further damage and restore the appearance of your tooth.

Is a Black Tooth an Emergency?

When you have a black tooth, how urgently you need to act depends on what caused it and how you feel. Let’s break it down.

  • Severe Pain and Swelling If your black tooth hurts a lot, swells up, or there’s a bump (abscess), you need to see a dentist right away. It could mean your tooth is very damaged or infected, and you don’t want it to get worse.
  • Black Tooth After an Injury If your tooth suddenly turns black after you hurt it, it might be damaged inside. You should go to the dentist quickly to check how bad it is and stop any problems, like an infection.
  • Gradual Discoloration with No Pain If your tooth is getting black slowly and doesn’t hurt, it might not be an emergency. But you still should see a dentist to figure out why it’s happening and what to do about it.

How to Recognize an Emergency if a Tooth Is Black 

If your black tooth is causing you a lot of pain or you’re always worried about it, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. Having a black tooth might be a sign of a serious health issue.

Here are a couple of conditions that could cause black teeth:

  • Halitosis This happens when your mouth doesn’t make enough spit because of medicines or a medical problem. If your spit is blocked and your teeth are turning black, it could mean something serious is going on with your health.
  • Tooth Abscess These can happen to anyone, even if their mouth is usually healthy. But if you have a black tooth and you see a red or white painful spot on it, that could be a sign of an abscess. It’s important to deal with it quickly.

If you’re worried about your black tooth, it’s best to talk to a doctor or dentist. They can figure out what’s going on and help you fix it.

Does having a black tooth hurt?

Whether a black tooth is painful can vary depending on the underlying cause. In some cases, a black tooth might be accompanied by pain, especially if it’s due to severe tooth decay, an abscess, or trauma to the tooth. The pain can range from mild discomfort to severe, throbbing pain.

However, not all black teeth are necessarily painful. Some people may have a black tooth without experiencing any pain or discomfort. This could occur if the discoloration is due to factors like medication side effects or gradual tooth decay without nerve involvement.

If you have a black tooth and it’s causing you pain or discomfort, it’s essential to see a dentist promptly to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment. Even if the black tooth isn’t painful, it’s still important to have it evaluated by a dental professional to address any underlying issues and prevent further complications.

How to Treat a Black Tooth

Treating a black tooth depends on the cause. If it’s due to trauma or decay, you should see a dentist for proper evaluation and treatment. In general, here are some steps you can take:

  • Visit a Dentist: This is crucial to determine the cause of the black tooth. The dentist will examine the tooth and recommend appropriate treatment.
  • Cleaning If the black color is due to plaque or staining, the dentist may recommend a professional cleaning to remove the discoloration.
  • Fillings or Crowns If the black tooth is due to decay, the dentist may recommend a filling or crown to restore the tooth’s appearance and function.
  • Root Canal Treatment In cases of severe decay or infection, a root canal may be necessary to remove the infected tissue and restore the tooth.
  • Extraction If the tooth is severely damaged and cannot be saved, extraction may be necessary.
  • Preventive Measures Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.
  • Avoiding Staining Agents Limit your consumption of foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, such as coffee, tea, and red wine.

Remember, early intervention is key to preventing further damage and restoring the health and appearance of your tooth.


In conclusion, addressing a black tooth necessitates professional assessment and intervention by a dentist. Whether the discoloration stems from trauma, decay, or other factors, the appropriate treatment can vary. From thorough cleaning to more extensive procedures like fillings, crowns, root canals, or extractions, the approach hinges on the specific condition of the tooth. Beyond immediate treatment, ongoing oral hygiene practices and avoidance of staining substances play pivotal roles in maintaining dental health. Timely action is paramount in halting further deterioration and restoring both the functionality and aesthetics of the affected tooth.


Q1. Is a black tooth serious?

A1. When a tooth breaks or cracks, it can start to decay inside and turn black. This happens because the inside of the tooth is rotting. If your tooth is rotten, you might need a root canal.

Q2. Do you have to take out a black tooth?

A2. Sometimes, a tooth is too damaged to fix, so the dentist might suggest taking it out. If your tooth is just black because of stains, the dentist might be able to clean it and make it white again.

Q3. How long can you keep a black tooth?

A3. A dead tooth can stay in your mouth for days, weeks, months, or even years, depending on how bad it is. But leaving it in for a long time can cause big problems with your mouth.

Q4. What can a dentist do for a black tooth?

A4. A dentist can fix a black tooth in different ways. They might use dental bonding or put a crown or veneer on it. They can also whiten a dead tooth.

Q5. Can you save a black tooth?

A5. Get help from a dentist as soon as you can. They’ll try to save your tooth before it gets too bad. Even really bad black teeth can sometimes be fixed with the right treatment, but you have to act before it’s too late.

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