What Is Black Wisdom Tooth and Why Is It Happening?

The third molars of your teeth, better known as wisdom teeth, are a topic of much discussion and debate due to the discomfort and pain they can cause when they become impacted. When it comes to the health of your wisdom teeth, it is important to be aware of any changes or unsual symptoms in your teeth, including discoloration.

In particular, your wisdom tteeth may turn black. A black wisdom tooth is a cause for concern as it may indicate decay or damage to the tooth. When you have a black wisdom tooth or notice that the tooth is turning a shade darker, visit your dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause of the discoloration.

In this article, we will explore the possible causes of a black wisdom tooth, the potential consequences if left untreated, and the treatments that may be recommended by a dental professional. Whether you are experiencing a black wisdom tooth yourself or simply want to learn more about dental health, this article will provide you valuable insights to help you maintain your oral health. So let’s dive in and explore the mystery of the black wisdom tooth!

What Causes Black Wisdom Tooth?

A black wisdom tooth is essentially a wisdom tooth that has turned black in color. The cause of the discoloration must be identified as a black wisdom tooth indicates a serious dental problem that requires prompt treatment.

The discoloration can be caused by a variety of factors including:

  1. Consumption of stain-causing food: The consumption of stain-causing food such as red wine, tea, or sweets can cause your wisdom teeth to turn grey. This is due to erosion of the tooth enamel or the sticking of colored chemical compounds (e.g tannins) on to the teeth.
  2. Tooth decay: If the tooth has been affected by dental caries or decay, it may turn black in color. Decay occurs when bacteria produce a weak acid that eats away at the tooth enamel, causing a cavity to form. Over time, the decay progresses to the dentin, leading to a potential infection of the tooth pulp.
  3. Trauma: An injury to the tooth or the surrounding gum tissues can cause sufficient damage that leads to a black wisdom tooth. Examples of trauma that can lead to a black wisdom tooth include accidents, injuries from contact sport, and even aggressive tooth brushing.
  4. Infection: An infection of the wisdom tooth or gums can cause the tooth to turn black. This happens when there is an untreated cavity or a gum disease such as gingivitis or periodontitis. This causes the tooth to die and turn black in color.
  5. Medication: Certain medications, such as the tetracycline antibiotic, can cause staining of the tooth. This occurs when the tooth is exposed to tetracycline during tooth mineralization or calcification; the tetracycline binds to the calcium ions in the teeth, causing the stain to develop internally within the tooth. While the discoloration usually occurs in the front or anterior teeth, the molars of the teeth will also suffer from staining albeit at a lighter shade.
  6. Genetics: In some cases, genetics may play a role in tooth discoloration. Some people are born with teeth that are naturally darker in color, which may include the wisdom teeth.

As mentioned, it is important that you identify the root cause of the black wisdom teeth immediately and receive the appropriate treatment.

What Happens if Black Wisdom Tooth is Left Untreated?

If a black wisdom tooth is left untreated, it can lead to a variety of dental problem. First and foremost, if the black wisdom tooth is caused by decay, it will continue to spread, leading to an extensive decay in the tooth. This can cause serious pain as well as swelling of the gums.

An infection of the wisdom tooth could spread to other areas of your mouth and even into your bloodstream, leading to serious health issues such as sepsis or even death in rare cases.

Black band on wisdom teeth due to tetracycline | Source: Bauer Smiles dentistry

When the wisdom tooth is not promptly treated, the decay progresses to the dentin. As the dentin is softer than the enamel, the decay progress at a much faster rate. Eventually, the decay reaches the tooth pulp, the innermost layer of the tooth where the nerves can be found. This can deteriorate to pulp necrosis, an irreversible condition where the pulp tissue dies. When pulp necrosis happens, you may not be able to feel hot or coldness in the wisdom tooth as the nerves are all dead.

An untreated black wisdom tooth can also cause the formation of cysts and tumors, which can damage the adjacent teeth and as well as the bone underneath.

What Are the Treatments for Black Wisdom Tooth?

Depending on the severity of the black wisdom tooth, different treatment plans can be applied to mitigate the discoloration.

In mild cases where only black spots or minimal staining is observed, the cause of the staining is first determined and eliminated to prevent further progression. The black spot or stain is then grinded (ground) down and replaced with a tooth-colored bonding material or veener. This restores the appearance of the wisdom teeth while allowing it to function as a molar teeth.

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If the discoloration is caused by stains on the surface of the tooth, teeth whitening products can be an effective tool in removing these surface stains. These products, which contains a significant concentration of hydrogen peroxide, breaks down the stain into smaller molecules, thereby making the color less concentrated and visible.

Root Canal Treatment | Source: Smilepoint Dental & Orthodontics

If the tooth is infected or has serious tooth decay, a root canal may be required. This involves the removal of the infected or damaged pulp from the tooth and filling it with a dental material to prevent any further infection.

However, in most cases, the removal of the wisdom tooth is preferred. This effectively prevents any infection from spreading to the surround gum tissue or adjacent teeth while eliminating the source of the problem. Furthermore, many dentists and oral surgeon recommend the removal of your wisdom teeth as a preventive measure in the event that the tooth becomes impacted.


To conclude, black wisdom teeth can be a sign of a serious dental problem that requires prompt treatment. If left untreated, black wisdom teeth can lead to pain, an infection of the tooth pulp, gum disease, damage to neighboring teeth and in some cases, health issues. While there are multiple treatments available to treat black wisdom teeth, it is important to determine the cause of the discoloration as well as the severity of the issue.

If you are unsure of the condition of your black wisdom tooth, seek advice from your dentist as soon as possible to determine the root cause of the condition and prevent further complications.