What Are the Black Triangles Between My Teeth? Causes Treatments

Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. What Causes Black Triangles?
  2. Potential Oral Health Risks
  3. Treatment Options
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Final Note
  6. References

Take a moment to examine your front teeth in front of a mirror. Can you identify small gaps that resemble black triangles? These black triangles occur when the embrasure (the space between your front teeth) doesn't have enough gum tissue.

This results in black triangular gaps in between your dental structures. And it is a common issue. The British Journal of Applied Science & Technology reports that black triangles occur in 67 percent of people aged 20 and older.

Black triangles between your teeth are also known as open gingival embrasures, and dentists can fix them for both cosmetic and health reasons. However, if someone who develops the triangles ignores them or opts not to get them looked at by a dentist, they risk several severe dental health conditions. It’s important to understand how these triangles develop and how you can manage or improve them.

What Causes Black Triangles?

Black triangles can lead to several dental issues, including a change in dental anatomy and overall oral health. According to a review in the British Dental Journal (BDJ), the main causes include:

  • Age: the older a person grows, the higher the chances of developing black triangles.

  • Gum disease and loss of gum tissue

  • Orthodontic treatment

  • Wide gaps between the teeth

  • An uneven tooth crown

Because the primary catalyst for black triangles is gum disease, you must understand the main cause of gum diseases as well. The American Dental Association lists the following as the main causes of gum diseases:

  • Poor oral hygiene

  • Hereditary

  • Unnatural dental formula, misaligned teeth which are hard to manage and maintain

  • Smoking tobacco and similar substances

  • Lifestyle diseases like diabetes

  • Certain medications

  • Hormonal change during pregnancy

Potential Oral Health Risks of Black Triangles

Open gingival embrasures aren't just a cosmetic issue. The BDJ review explains that plaque and food residue can accumulate in the gaps over time, resulting in cavities and other more serious oral health problems like dental abscesses. That's why getting a dental assessment and treatment solutions from a dental surgeon or orthodontist is crucial if you notice the dark triangles (or other even other oddities about the appearance or smell of your teeth and gums).

Treatment Options for Black Triangles Between the Teeth

Dental triangles are complex dental health issues. As such, treatment can involve an interdisciplinary approach.

Your personal oral surgeon may need to work with other dental and orthodontic specialists to achieve an effective treatment solution.

However, depending on the cause, complexity and severity of the black triangles, treatment options can vary. The BDJ lists the following treatment options for fixing black triangles, some of which you might want to discuss with your family dentist:

  • Surgical procedures: Several surgical procedures can be applied to boost gum tissue between the gaps in your teeth.

  • Tissue injection: Also called tissue engineering, this approach involves injecting regenerative cells to support the regrowth of missing gum tissue.

  • Tissue volumizing: This is the same approach used in facial tissue regeneration. It involves using hyaluronic acid to remove black triangles.

  • Restoration reshaping: This procedure involves reshaping the teeth through bonding, cosmetic recontouring, adding new crowns or veneers to remove black triangles.

  • Artificial restorative materials: Restorative materials such as pink shades made of porcelain can be used to cover or remove black triangles.

  • Gingival veneers: Gingival veneers are removable masks that are gum-colored. They can also be acrylic or silicon objects used to cover black triangles. They’re a cost-effective option for temporarily masking black triangles and such spaces between the teeth.

  • Orthodontic treatment: While orthodontic treatments are an effective solution for fixing various oral defects, they have drawbacks, one of which is creating black triangles. In that context, the same treatment procedure can also fix black triangles by repositioning teeth roots and shape. One method uses braces to close the gaps between the teeth, permanently removing black triangles.

Finally, the best way to avoid developing black triangles is by maintaining healthy oral hygiene. That is: brushing your teeth at least twice daily, oil pulling, flossing your teeth at least once a day, and attending regular check-ups with your dentist. 

While it's possible to develop black triangles at some point in your life, it's good to know that your dental health provider can advise you on the best procedures to eliminate them.

FAQs About Black Triangles

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about black triangles between the teeth:

Yes, you can with proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth gently twice a day and floss once every 24 hours to eliminate black triangles. However, according to American Dental Association (ADA), care should be taken when flossing to avoid hurting or damaging the gums. Plus, if your black triangles are not severe and you have healthy gums, consider adopting better oral hygiene habits to allow your gums to restore their vitality.

Yes. A dentist can work with a periodontist and orthodontist or oral surgeon to resolve your black triangles. Treatment options include surgical procedures, tissue regeneration, volumizing, restoration reshaping, bonding, adding veneers, braces, and several other methods.

If not done properly, flossing can result in gum damage which can further hurt your oral health, so it should be used sparingly.

Yes. Grafting or bonding procedures such as tissue volumizing or regeneration can help fix black triangles.

Final Note

Black triangles, otherwise referred to as open gingival embrasures, can occur when the gums detach from your teeth. Several factors such as age, poor dental hygiene, gum diseases, and weak bone mass can all lead to the formation of black triangles. So beauty isn't the only reason people tend to seek a solution to this dental problem. These gaps can trap food particles and harmful bacteria resulting in additional dental issues.

Thankfully, there are treatment options to rectify this problem which should start with replacing your toothbrush every three months and flossing regularly.

Depending on the extent of your dental health condition, your oral healthcare specialist may recommend surgical corrections, hyaluronic acid injections, braces, and veneers. You should also go for regular dental checks to help detect and fix the problem as soon as it develops.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.