Infections that spread into the pulp can darken the tooth on the inside. When you break a tooth, the internal discoloration becomes visible. About 2.3 billion adults worldwide suffer from caries, which makes it the leading cause of black teeth.

Does a tooth that is black on the inside mean it is rotting? Tooth decay is extremely widespread, but it is not the only reason. Keep on reading this article to understand your dental problem and address it properly.

Why can a broken tooth be black on the inside?

Several common reasons can make your tooth look black on the inside. Some of them require immediate treatment, while others have only a cosmetic effect.

The outer tooth layer known as enamel is white due to a high calcium content. Beneath it is the dentin, a yellowish tissue. The dentin makes up the largest part of the tooth. Finally, beneath the dentin is the reddish-pink pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves that color it red.

None of the layers is naturally black. No matter what the underlying problem causing the discoloration is, a broken tooth itself requires urgent medical attention.

Tooth decay

Infection can blacken not only the tooth surface, but also the inner layers.

The proliferation of pathogenic bacteria can have different dynamics. You do not always have to wait until the infection makes most of the surface black. A hole in an infected tooth may appear rather small from the outside, but it can reach deep into the tissues. Progressive decay can weaken your tooth structure and make it easier for you to break it.

Tooth sensitivity to sweet, hot and cold foods is the first sign of tooth decay. See your dentist as soon as possible to avoid complications.

Pulp necrosis

Pulp necrosis is the death of the tooth pulp. It can occur if you leave another oral disease, pulpitis or pulp inflammation without proper dental treatment.

Tooth decay spreading to the pulp is one of the most common factors causing pulpitis. Chronic physical impact to your teeth from bruxism or regular traumas typical for contact sports also contributes to pulpitis. A single facial or jaw injury is also a cause of pulpitis.

Inflamed pulp will cause you to experience severe tooth pain. If you do not visit a dental office soon enough, pulp necrosis can develop. So much bacteria builds up that the blood supply is blocked and the pulp can die. This also means the death of the entire tooth.

Intrinsic stain

Extrinsic tooth stains are very common, while intrinsic tooth stains are more of a rare condition.

Dark-colored foods and beverages, as well as tobacco consumption are more likely to darken the outer layer of your tooth. The most common culprit for discoloration of the inner parts is a side effect of a medication.

Although not common, some medications, such as certain antibiotics, can darken a tooth from inside. Teeth are particularly susceptible to such discoloration as they grow.

Metal filling

If you have had mercury or silver amalgam fillings in your teeth in the past, they can turn black over time. It is another common reason for a black tooth.

A filling made of a metal material oxidizes over time, causing a change in color. This process does not affect your health. However, since your tooth is broken, you still need to treat the situation as an emergency.

How to treat a broken rotten tooth?

Your treatment plan will depend on the exact nature of fractures and their intensity. Usually, a broken rotten tooth is a too advanced issue for a regular dental filling. Yet, if the decay and fractures have not reached the pulp, there is still a possibility that your dentist will place a filling.

Your dentists can still save a more severely split tooth with pulpitis or pulp necrosis if its structure is partially intact. First, you will need a root canal treatment, which removes the infected pulp. Then, your dentist will seal the cavity with a dental filling. Placing a dental crown on the tooth will support its structure. Keep in mind that without a nerve, your tooth is no longer vital.

If the damage is too extensive, you will need to undergo a tooth extraction. In most cases of broken teeth, oral surgeons perform this procedure. A specialist will make sure that no broken pieces of the tooth remain in your jaw. You may need anesthesia to numb the pain during the extraction. Once your gums heal, you may consider placing dental implants or bridges.

Will a broken rotten tooth eventually fall out?

Yes, widespread tooth decay will eventually make it fall out. Yet, it is dangerous to wait for this to happen.

If you take care of your tooth immediately after the injury, you can save it for decades. If the damage is already advanced, you still have a chance to preserve the structure with root canal treatment and a dental crown. Finally, a professional extraction guarantees maximum safety for your oral health. There will be no excessive bleeding, no spread of infection, and no leftover pieces of a broken tooth.

If you do not visit a dental office, you risk spreading the tooth infection throughout your body. In addition, preserving a tooth, even non- vital, is cheaper than placing implants or dental bridges. Preventing tooth loss with adequate treatment options also helps to maintain proper bone density.

Can a rotten, broken tooth make you sick?

A severely decayed tooth can have very serious health consequences.

An infection that becomes lodged in your tooth and gums will lead to painful and dangerous abscesses. From there, the bacteria can enter your bloodstream and infect other parts of your body. Breath difficulties, sore throat, lymphatic node inflammation and fever are alarming signals that you should not ignore.

The infection can enter certain organs, affect heart function, cause cardiac arrest or trigger sepsis. A dental emergency can develop into a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.