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What are black triangles?

Black triangles

‘Black triangles’ are small gaps that can form in between your teeth and gumline. Their clinical name is the less catchy ‘open gingival embrasures’.

They generally affect the front teeth and are caused by a lack of gum tissue. Because teeth taper towards the root, the resulting gaps are often triangle shaped.

Black triangles are usually caused by gum recession. Our gums naturally recede as we get older, but this can be exacerbated by gum disease, tooth infections and vigorous brushing.

Photo of black triangles

A black triangle between the lower front teeth

Should you be concerned about black triangles?

Most patients dislike their black triangles because of the way they look. As dentists, we dislike black triangles because they can trap food (also not a great a look) and plaque, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

If you are happy with the appearance of your black triangles, your dentist might advise you to brush and floss carefully and keep a close eye on your dental health before considering treatment.

Can black triangles be prevented?

Black triangles can’t necessarily be prevented, and some patients will be predisposed to them because they have very triangular shaped teeth or thin gum tissue.

However, you can minimise gum recession, and avoid contributing factors such as gums disease and tooth infections, by looking after your oral health and following a good daily routine.

This includes brushing gently yet thoroughly for two minutes twice a day and flossing once a day. You should also watch out for the signs of gum disease e.g. red, swollen gums; loose teeth; and bleeding while brushing. Make an appointment to see your dentist if you have any concerns.

How can we treat black triangles?

Without treatment, black triangles are likely to become more prominent over time as your gums continue to recede.

Thankfully, there are several ways we can treat black triangles.

1. If your black triangles are small and you only have mild gum recession cause by gum disease, you may be able control things by improving your oral hygiene routine.

2. If your gum disease is more advanced, you may need to see your dentist or a periodontist (gum specialist) for treatment to get you back on track.

3. If you are unhappy about the appearance of your black triangles, we can build up your teeth and disguise the gaps using a tooth-coloured filling material.

4. Another approach would be to look at rejuvenating your gumline. The pinhole technique, for example can be used to reverse gum recession.

5. Last but not least, we can minimise the appearance of black triangles through a combination of IPR and orthodontic treatment. IPR, short for interproximal reduction, involves carefully reshaping your teeth to minimise black triangles.

Black triangles and orthodontic treatment

Black triangles can sometimes reveal themselves after orthodontic treatment. Particularly in areas where teeth were previously crowded and overlapped.

Sometimes, we’ll know before we start your orthodontic treatment if black triangles are likely to appear, and we can plan in some interproximal reduction to prevent them or minimise their size. In the case of Invisalign treatment, we use special ClinCheck software that allows us to visualise your intended result, helping to indicate the likelihood of black triangles.

In most cases, IPR is enough to provide a great cosmetic outcome. If your black triangles are particularly obvious or bothersome, we can explore the treatments mentioned above to give you the very best result.

For more advise on treating black triangles, contact us to arrange your free no-obligation consultation*.

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