What Causes Dark Triangles [Between the Teeth?]

When brushing your teeth or looking in the mirror, you may notice the formation of one or more black triangles. This may lead you to wonder where they came from and how they can be treated. In this article, we’ll discuss the causes, preventative measures, and treatment of black triangles between your teeth.

smiling woman


What Are These Dark Triangles Between My Teeth?

The black triangles you see between your teeth are a space caused by recession of the gums. Your sides of your teeth are not shaped in a straight line, rather, they are naturally slightly curved. The gums naturally hide the angles. Once the gums recede, the curves and triangles become visible.

The recession of the gums occurs for a variety of reasons, some which are preventable. The triangle occurs when the gums between the teeth, also known as papilla, recede along with the top gum-line. These triangles start out small. If dental care is not a priority, you may not notice them for a significant amount of time.


How Can I Prevent The Triangles?

Since the triangles are caused by gum recession and loss, prevention of these unsightly triangles should be simple. All you have to do is avoid gum recession. The answer isn’t quite that simple, however. Gum recession is caused by the loss of the bone underneath the gums. If that bone de-mineralizes, there is nothing supporting the gums. They are then extremely vulnerable to recession.

So the real key is to prevent the jawbone from demineralizing. What causes the demineralization? This is caused by:

• Family history
Periodontal disease
• Teeth grinding
• Blunt trauma

As you can see, not all of the causes of jawbone loss and gum recession are preventable. You are unable to control your family genetics, and blunt trauma can sometimes occur completely accidentally. With that being said, you can control periodontal disease as well as teeth grinding.


How Can I Treat Periodontal Disease?

You can help prevent periodontal disease through regular preventative dental care and treating your oral health as a priority. If gum disease occurs, a specialist in periodontal care can help you stop the disease from spreading. While this will not reverse the damage, it can prevent further bone loss, reducing the potential for the dark triangles to occur.


How Do I Prevent Teeth Clenching And Grinding?

If you notice you’re grinding and clenching your teeth, we recommend talking to a dental specialist. There are a variety of oral appliances that can be used to prevent damage. You may also want to talk to your doctor and discover the root cause of the grinding, such as stress or sleep apnea.




How Do I Prevent Dental Trauma?

While not all forms of facial trauma can be completely prevented, you can start by wearing a protective mouth-guard while playing sports. When brushing your teeth, make sure you avoid brushing too hard. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Hard-bristled tooth rushes aren’t just unnecessary, they are likely to damage your gums.  Your goal should be to gently massage and stimulate the gums, rather than scrub them.


What Happens if Gum Recession Is Not Treated?

If gum recession and the resulting triangles are not treated, there are a few issues you will need to deal with. Firstly, there’s the aesthetic issue. Your teeth will look older and you may feel more self-conscious than normal. Along with the aesthetic issue, the triangles allow food to be caught between the teeth. As a result, this makes it more difficult to fully clean your teeth and remove plaque. Increased levels of plaque can lead to further periodontal disease, which can lead to more gum recession. As you can see, this leads to a vicious cycle. Consequently, as gum recession becomes worse, you run the risk of possibly losing teeth, requiring implants.


What Are the Recommended Treatments?

While prevention is the best cure, there are some options available. The treatment for these triangles depends on the root cause of the bone loss. If your root cause is poor dental hygiene, your periodontist will be able to work with you to improve your brushing and flossing habits. While this will not re-grow the gum loss, it will help prevent future gum disease. The other two causes can be treated by seeing a dental specialist called an orthodontist.

Want to Know the Best Part?

Orthodontists provide a variety of services, from braces to jaw surgery. The good news is that braces are no longer limited to just metal options. There have been significant advances in orthodontics, from clear braces to clear aligners to safely and effectively correct your bite and smile.


Teeth Have Roots Tilting in the Opposite Direction

Those with roots tipped may notice that one tooth is ‘shorter’ than another, particularly in the front teeth. The ‘shorter’ tooth will be at an angle to the ‘longer’ tooth, causing the triangular look between the top and bottom teeth. An orthodontist will be able to make the teeth look more parallel. Depending on your natural bite, this may cause the ‘black hole’ to disappear.


Teeth Are Naturally Triangled

If your teeth tilt in opposite directions or are naturally triangle shaped, this can be fixed orthodontically using a two-fold technique. First, your orthodontist will carefully re-contour the area between your teeth.  This process is called inter proximal reduction (IPR).  After the IPR, they will use the alignment method of your choice to straighten the teeth and close the black triangles. This is ideal for those without periodontal disease and those with genetic dispositions to angled teeth. Because the jawbone is still intact and gums have not yet receded, this can remove much of the triangle.


Here’s the Kicker

Drs. Nease and Higginbotham are orthodontic specialists in Spartanburg, SC with extensive experience correcting black triangles.  If you would like to discuss options for removing the black triangles between your teeth, contact us. We make it convenient to drive to our facilities by having three locations in South Carolina:

Whether the optimal solution for you is braces or clear aligners, we can help you discover the root cause of the problem and bring back your naturally healthy smile!


Nease and Higginbotham Orthodontics
2455 E. Main Street
SC 29307
Phone: (864) 579-7700


What Causes Dark Triangles [Between the Teeth?]


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