Are Black Triangles Normal

145 Black Triangles – Are Black Triangles Normal? (4 of 5)

It is possible for patients to have black triangles between their teeth at the base of the tooth. These gaps are more common for patients who have triangular shaped teeth or in patients with receding gums. Small spaces between the teeth are actually helpful in removing food and debris, however, large gaps can be difficult to clean and accumulate plaque. Two treatments commonly used to reduce the appearance of black triangles are cosmetic bonding and interproximal reduction (IPR). It is also possible for the spaces to appear after the completion of braces or other orthodontic treatments.

Black triangles can naturally occur at the base of the tooth next to the gums. Common causes for black triangles can include natural aging, receding gums, braces, gum disease, and the shape of the teeth. Poor oral hygiene, the use of aggressive force when flossing or brushing, smoking, and pregnancy hormones can also result in black triangles.

While black triangles may be considered a cosmetic issue, they can actually result in serious issues due to the accumulation of plaque and food debris. In cases of severe black triangles, a patient is at higher risk for cavities and gum disease. It is actually normal to have small spaces between the teeth which make it easier to clean.

The shape of the teeth can impact the likelihood of a patient having black triangles. Some shapes create more obvious triangles than others. The teeth can be the following different shapes: oval, rectangular, and triangular. The gap between the teeth and the gums is largely dictated by the tooth’s natural shape.
* Rectangular: teeth which are rectangular have straight parallel edges which fit together at the top and bottom without obvious gaps. Because rectangular teeth do not have significant gaps, visible black triangles are highly unlikely.
* Oval: oval teeth have rounded edges at the bottom biting surface. This shape creates additional space at the bottom of the tooth, but the top of the teeth fit close together. Oval teeth are also not likely to develop black triangles.
* Triangle: teeth that are triangular have sloped edges like a triangle. The teeth fit closely together at the biting surface, and contain more space between at the top of the tooth next to the gums. It is quite common for patients with triangular teeth to develop black triangles.

Treatments which are commonly used to reduce the appearance of black triangles include interproximal reduction (IPR) and bonding.

Interproximal Reduction (IPR)
IPR can help in reducing the appearance of black triangles. With IPR, the dentist places a small filling around the edges of the tooth to eliminate prominent gaps. There are limitations with IPR in regard to the amount of filing that can be used. In cases of large or severe gaps, IPR may not be an option.

When the gaps between the teeth are too large for IPR, the dentist may opt to use bonding. The dentist will use a white, tooth-colored resin material to fill in the gaps. The bonding is then shaped and a UV light is used to harden and set the bonding. Bonding is affordable and relatively quick with minimal down time.

When patients have mild black triangles which have newly developed, they can often be reduced through improved oral hygiene practices. This includes use of the proper technique and amount of force when flossing and brushing. If a patient is concerned with their black triangles, they should follow up with their dentist to determine the cause and discuss treatment options.