Discoloration on the pulp inside of your teeth can occur due to tooth decay or damage. A broken tooth requires immediate dental care.

Your teeth are the strongest structures in your body. But despite their strength, they can still get damaged by things like bacteria or trauma.

The hard outer layer of your teeth is called the enamel. Calcium gives your enamel it’s white color.

Underneath your enamel is a softer layer of yellowish tissue called dentin. It makes up the bulk of your tooth.

The most inner layer of your tooth is known as the pulp. The pulp has a reddish-pink color. It contains your tooth’s nerves and blood vessels.

Breaking a tooth can expose the dentin or pulp layer.

Whenever you break a tooth, see a dentist or other healthcare provider as soon as possible. The sooner you receive treatment, the more likely the dentist will be able to save your tooth.

It’s not normal for your teeth to be black on the inside. If you notice black or dark brown coloring, it’s likely a sign of tooth decay or other severe damage.

A dentist can tell you the specific reason why your tooth is discolored and advise you how to best fix it.

Keep reading to find out what might cause the inside of your tooth to turn black, and what your treatment options are.

Healthy teeth aren’t black on the inside. If your tooth breaks and it looks black or dark brown inside, it’s likely a sign of internal damage. The following are potential causes.

Tooth decay

Tooth decay starts when bacteria in your mouth eat away at your enamel. Left untreated, the bacteria can damage the inner dentin layer and cause sensitivity.

As the damage nears the pulp of your tooth, you’re likely to experience a toothache. The toothache will continue to get worse as the decay progresses.

If the bacteria completely eat through the dentin, the nerves and blood vessels in your pulp can become damaged and discolored.

You can minimize your risk for developing tooth decay by:

  • visiting a dentist regularly
  • limiting your intake of sugary drinks and foods
  • brushing your teeth twice per day
  • flossing at least once per day

Pulp necrosis

Inflammation of your pulp is known as pulpitis. It often causes increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks. Pulpitis can occur as a result of tooth decay, or from trauma to your tooth that disrupts its blood supply.

Pulp necrosis occurs when pulpitis progresses and the nerve and blood vessels in the tooth die. If you have pulp necrosis, your tooth loses its ability to sense hot and cold.

The inside of your tooth may also become black or brown since it’s lost its blood supply.

Intrinsic stain

Consuming dark-colored foods and drinks can cause your teeth to stain, known as extrinsic stains. “Extrinsic” means outside; extrinsic tooth stains occur on the outer surface of the tooth.

Stains that involve the deeper inside layers of the tooth are called intrinsic tooth stains. These stains occur when dark material penetrates the tooth. This often happens during tooth development.

Some antibiotics, like tetracycline, may lead to intrinsic tooth staining in children.

Exposed metal filling

If you notice a black spot inside your tooth, you may be looking at an old dental filling. Certain types of dental fillings, like mercury and silver amalgam, oxidize and turn black over time.

A broken tooth is considered a dental emergency. Whenever you have a dental emergency, it’s important to receive attention from a dentist or other healthcare provider as soon as possible.

The quicker you take action, the more likely you are to save your tooth. In fact, many dentists leave time open in their schedules to accommodate emergencies.

If your tooth breaks at a time your dental office is closed and you’re having severe tooth pain or swelling, go to the nearest emergency room.

If you injure a tooth while traveling, use the American Dental Association’s Find-a-Dentist tool to locate a dentist near you.

The best treatment option for your black tooth depends on the cause. A black tooth won’t get better by itself and requires dental attention from a professional. A dentist will be able to suggest the best way to treat your tooth after examining it.

Here are some options.


If your tooth is badly damaged and can’t be fixed, a dentist will likely advise pulling it. They may be able to replace your tooth with a:

Root canal

If your tooth nerve is too inflamed to heal, a dentist will need to perform a root canal. Your dentist will clean and remove the inflamed pulp from the middle of your tooth.

A dentist may also perform a root canal if you have pulpitis or pulp necrosis.


If your tooth is broken and a can’t be repaired with a filling, your dentist may place a crown on it. A crown is a prosthetic cap that covers and protects your damaged tooth. Crowns are commonly made of ceramic, porcelain, or metal.

Having a black tooth can be a sign of a serious dental condition. Reasons why your tooth is black on the outside can include:

  • Tooth decay. Tooth decay can discolor both the outside and inside of your tooth.
  • Traumatic injury. A sudden injury to your tooth can damage its blood supply, and causing it to turn black.
  • Fillings or crowns. Some types of fillings, like those containing silver sulfide, may turn black over time from oxidation.
  • Stains. Dark-colored foods and drinks, like coffee and soda, can lead to enamel stains over time.
  • Medications. Certain medications, like liquid iron supplements, can stain teeth.
  • Tobacco use. Chewing or smoking tobacco can stain your teeth. It also increases your risk for developing gum disease.
  • Tartar. Tartar is a buildup of plaque and minerals in your saliva. Some forms of tartar appear black or dark brown.

A broken tooth is considered a dental emergency and requires prompt attention from a dentist.

If your tooth is black on the inside and your tooth is sensitive, it’s likely a sign of tooth decay. A dentist will be able to tell you the exact cause after an examination, and can recommend the best treatment option.