I get black stuff on my teeth. Anyone heard of this?
May 28, 2011 10:34 PM   Subscribe

I get black stuff on my teeth. Anyone heard of this? I haven't been brushing my teeth regularly for a while, and that might have something to do with it. I easily get a black film over my teeth, and it doesn't brush away easily. I just scrape it off with a nail, but it's hard to get it all. It's like black plaque. I'm not eating anything unusual, so I don't know why it's happening.
posted by vash to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You have calculus and plaque on your teeth. You drink stuff like coffee or tea and it stains said substances black nasty colors. If your gums are inflamed, they could also be bleeding and staining everything dark colors. Try a visit to the dentist for a cleaning and exam and perhaps brush your teeth more often?
posted by zachlipton at 10:46 PM on May 28, 2011

This is however, a go see a dentist thread.

My theory:
You haven't been brushing your teeth regularly, therefore you have a build-up of plaque. Plaque does not brush off easily. When you drink coffee or cola, the plaque stains black.
You didn't get this before because you hadn't built plaque to a level that was resistant to brushing.

What you do:
You book an appointment with a dental hygienist. This costs less than a dental appointment. At the appointment, if I'm wrong, they tell you what's really going on. They deep clean your teeth. You get a nice new toothbrush, possibly an electric one if the decrease in effort would assist you, toothpaste, and you brush your teeth twice a day, and, voila! No more black teeth!
posted by Elysum at 10:49 PM on May 28, 2011

I drink probably two sodas a week. I don't drink anything else but water and almond milk. Something else might be staining them, though; I didn't think that it could be staining plaque that's already on there.
posted by vash at 10:50 PM on May 28, 2011

omigod dude. brush your teeth regularly. lay off the nail.

this question is like "my hand hurts, i tend to wack my hand with a hammer, maybe that has something to do with it, what do you think is wrong with my hand?"
posted by Kololo at 10:55 PM on May 28, 2011 [19 favorites]

Go have your teeth cleaned. Lose the nail because you might chip a tooth and that will be even more drama.
posted by mleigh at 10:58 PM on May 28, 2011

It might not be coffee, tea etc, but it is still probably plaque.
There's a strain of plaque forming bacteria that tends to leave black bio-film/plaque (according to google) 'black line stain', it's less damaging than the brown sort at least. It's often correlated with high iron levels - do you take supplements? It also often occurs in people with good dental hygiene.
But still, the suggested treatment is having dental hygienist clean the plaque off regularly. If that is the problem, then apparently it often comes back, because that's the dominant strain of bacteria in your mouth, and you just need to get them cleaned regularly, but there's a few accounts online of people getting them cleaned a few times, and then that knocking the bacteria back or something - no more black.
And there's various reports about different metals staining plaque, manganese, and of course smoking.
posted by Elysum at 11:13 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wait, are you scraping it off with a finger nail, or some kind of metal carpentry nail? If the latter, please stop, as you are likely damaging your enamel and could seriously hurt yourself if it slips.

And regardless of what you're using to do the scraping, it would be much more effective to brush regularly with toothpaste and get a proper cleaning by a dental hygienist. The blackness could be stains from food, could be minerals, could be dark-colored bacteria... Whatever it is, it's not something you want in your mouth. Go see a professional and get this handled.
posted by vytae at 11:17 PM on May 28, 2011

I really wish google wouldn't show images in the main search. That's horrifying. It might be what I get, since I have high iron and never had a cavity, but it's not quite the same.
posted by vash at 11:24 PM on May 28, 2011

It's happening because you're not brushing your teeth regularly. Also, it's probably some kind of infection. The only person I've ever known that had a black tooth had a severe infection and required serious dental care. Please seek dental care.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:25 PM on May 28, 2011

I'm talking about a fingernail of course.
posted by vash at 11:25 PM on May 28, 2011

You need dental care, not AskMe advice.

If you have been putting off going to a dentist because of the potential expense, please look up your local dental school and call and ask them about their student practicum clinics, typical prices, and if they offer any sort of free or sliding-scale-payment programs.

Yes if you go to the dental school you will have students working on your teeth instead of an experienced dentist but they are supervised by real dentists so the quality of care should be adequate. The students will likely just take a lot longer to do everything than an experienced dentist because the students need extra time to think through everything and they haven't yet developed enough muscle memory to work their tools very quickly.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:56 AM on May 29, 2011

I know you've never had a cavity, so you might think brushing your teeth isn't particularly useful. However, avoiding cavities is only one aspect of dental hygiene. Plaque buildup will cause the bones to recede from the teeth over time and they will become loose. Don't ask me how I know this.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:16 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had black metabolic stain on my teeth for a very long time (like, since I was a baby) - a thin black line along the boundary between my gums and teeth. When I was little, it was on all of my teeth, but as I've gotten older, it's localized to the back of my molars. It's not a reflection of my poor dental hygiene nor my propensity for diet coke (since as a 2 year old, I wasn't drinking much diet coke). When I was younger and it was more obvious on more of my teeth, I went for a cleaning every three months so people would stop asking me why I drew sharpie lines on my teeth. Now, it's pretty well under control with regular flossing and brushing. Talk to your dentist at your next regular cleaning.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:51 AM on May 29, 2011

Go to a dentist (like, now) and then start brushing AND FLOSSING (more important than brushing, I'd say) regularly. It takes like 5-10 minutes of your day. It'll be good for you.
posted by quirkychowder at 12:27 PM on May 29, 2011

Talk to your dentist, brush & floss daily, etc, etc, and when my daughter turned up with weird stains on her teeth (despite doing at least the brushing), he said listerine after brushing which does seem to have killed the weird bacteria causing her issue.
posted by susanbeeswax at 10:55 PM on May 29, 2011

I have read that doing things that eradicate large percentages of bacteria in the mouth, such as using antibacterial mouthwash, can cause shifts in microbe population towards the black stuff.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 12:55 AM on May 30, 2011

No knowledge of the topic at all, but "almond milk" caught my eye. I've never heard of it, so I'm wondering if that's a factor, just because it's an unknown variable to me.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:35 PM on May 30, 2011

This might mostly be anecdotal.. When you do brush, what variety of toothpaste do you typically use? Admittedly, my dental hygiene is probably in your range, but I will say that there are stains on my teeth that I never had until I used Crest Pro-Health. That was the only change I had made in medicine/foods and beverages/dental routines at that time, and the color change happened almost as soon as I started using the first and only tube I ever bought. The staining has remained permanent despite the fact that I have stopped using that particular product. The staining was a dark brown/black along the gumline. I have had problems with plaque and tartar since.. almost always.. and my gingivitis never manifested itself in that color before use of that particular product. (I'm particularly creeped out by the fact that I discontinued use and the staining never went away)
posted by Mael Oui at 10:58 PM on May 30, 2011

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