What it Means if Your Tooth Broke Off and it’s Black Inside

What it Means if Your Tooth Broke Off and it’s Black Inside

Breaking a tooth is a traumatic enough experience, but when the tooth breaks off and you discover that it’s black inside, it’s disturbing to say the least. There are a few different reasons a tooth might turn black, and the treatment will depend on the cause. Regardless of what caused your tooth to turn black on the inside, however, it’s critical to call your dentist right away. An untreated broken tooth can cause significant pain, infection, and other health complications.   

So what does it mean if your tooth is black, and what can you do about it? Let’s start with how teeth break in the first place. 


How teeth break

Our teeth are tough, but certain factors can weaken them and cause them to break. Sometimes a broken tooth is the result of a sudden, traumatic blow. At other times, cavities weaken teeth from the inside out, making them more susceptible to breakage from eating hard foods. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can also result in cracked and broken teeth. Playing contact sports without a mouth guard, using your teeth to open packages, and chewing ice all increase your risk of breaking a tooth. 


What causes a tooth to turn black on the inside?

As you may have guessed, a black tooth is an unhealthy tooth. Sometimes the black you see is actually the discoloration of an old dental filling made of mercury or silver amalgam that has oxidized and turned black.  But when the inside of the tooth itself is black, it’s a sign that damage has occurred. The two main causes of this damage are: 


  • Tooth decay – When plaque bacteria break down the sugar in your mouth, it creates an acid that damages the structure of your teeth by eating away at the enamel and the dentin. The decay process begins with the outer layer of the enamel and then moves to the inner part of the tooth. As tooth decay progresses, discoloration occurs. 


  • Pulp necrosis – On the inside of every tooth, past the hard outer layers, we have what’s called the pulp chamber. This chamber extends from the crown of the tooth down into the roots and contains the soft, live parts of the tooth, including the nerve endings, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When the outer parts of the tooth become compromised and bacteria gets into the pulp, it causes an infection known as “pulpitis.” Over time, the infection kills the nerve endings and blood vessels. This is known as pulp necrosis, and when it sets in, the tooth loses all sensation and turns black. 


If your tooth has turned black, your dentist will be able to give you more specific information about what caused it and how to treat it. 


Treating a broken tooth

If your tooth breaks, call your dentist right away.  A broken tooth is a dental emergency, and it will not fix itself. The longer a broken tooth goes untreated, the more likely it will result in significant pain and other health complications. How your dentist treats the broken tooth will depend on the cause and the extent of the damage.  Your dentist may recommend:

  • A ceramic filling to strengthen the tooth
  • A root canal to remove the pulp
  • A dental crown to cover and protect the broken tooth from further damage
  • A dental implant to replace the broken tooth altogether


We cannot stress enough the importance of seeing a dentist as soon as you can. Your smile is one of your best assets, and your dentist can help you fix your broken tooth and keep your smile strong and healthy. 


Broken tooth? Call University Dental in San Diego!

Broken teeth are more common than you probably realize. And they’re treatable, too. The sooner you come in to see us at University Dental, the sooner we restore your smile to its full glory. Give us a call at 619-582-4224 to schedule an appointment today.