If you have been pondering about getting orthodontic treatment, you may have read or heard about the appearance black triangles in your teeth during your research into braces. What exactly are black triangles? In this article, we will shed light on all you need to know about them.
What are black triangles?
We all have a piece of gum tissue between our teeth, also known as an interdental papilla. It extends vertically from our gumline, sitting between adjacent teeth, holding our teeth together. From the front of our mouth, the papilla looks like a pink triangle pointing towards the opposing teeth. They help to keep our gums safe, preventing food from getting stuck between our teeth and causing tooth decay and gum infection.
When the pink papilla shrinks and fails to fill the gap between the teeth, a triangular void develops, which is most commonly referred to as the black triangle, also called gingival triangles or gingival embrasures. In an online study, individuals ranked black triangles after crown margins and cavities as the third reason for an unattractive smile.
Apart from compromising how your smile appears, the black triangle can increase your risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay. It can also result in varying degrees of speech impairment, depending on how big the gap is.
What causes black triangles?
According to several studies and university research, black triangles are a result of a mixture of factors, such as:
- The amount of space between each tooth: There must be a sufficient gap between each tooth in order for adequate blood flow to the papilla, but not too much so that the pink tissues are unable to fill the space.
- Your age: The risk of developing black triangles increases as we get older. Certain systemic conditions, such as diabetes, also increase the risk.
- The presence of gum recession and periodontal disease:As our gum recedes, the papilla also recedes, reducing the attachment between each tooth and forming black triangles.
- Misshapen dental restorations:Dental restorations, such as crowning procedures, that are not done in the correct shape or size can lead to unnecessary space between adjacent teeth.
- Genetics:Inherited physical traits, such as the position and shape of your dental roots, teeth, and jawbone, can make you more vulnerable to developing black triangles. Individuals with more rectangular or square-shaped teeth tend to have better-spaced teeth and less issues with black triangles.
- Your gum biotype:Individuals with scalloped, thin gums are more vulnerable to developing black triangles as this gum biotype tends to recede more in response to inflammation and trauma.
- Diverging dental roots:When our dental roots are angled or divergent, they form a wider gap between each tooth near the gumline, increasing the risk of developing black triangles.
- Poor oral habits:Aggressive flossing, excessive use of toothpicks, and coarse brushing are examples of poor oral habits that can damage the papilla, causing gum recession.
Does orthodontic treatment cause black triangles?
Orthodontic treatment, using visible or invisible braces, can result in the development of black triangles in some individuals, especially in the older adults. The truth is that black triangles might have been latent even before orthodontic treatment. They were just not visible due to the overlapping, overcrowding, or crookedness of the teeth.
As your orthodontic treatment fixes the irregularities in your teeth, the black triangles begin to appear due to the fact that your newly straightened teeth do not have sufficient gum tissue between them. Hence, if you spot black triangles after your orthodontic treatment, chances are they were there before, lying latent.
How do we prevent black triangles arising after orthodontic treatment?
While you cannot change your gum biotype, age, and genetics, there are certain factors you can control, such as maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping your gum healthy.
Black triangles are early indications of gum disease. You will have to treat it before beginning your orthodontic treatment.
It is sometimes necessary to extract teeth before orthodontic treatment, especially if those teeth will hinder the procedure. Extraction and retraction of front teeth enables greater coverage of the front teeth by the lips, thereby masking the appearance of black triangles.
Nevertheless, once you have gone through your orthodontic treatment, it is even more vital to ensure proper dental hygiene, such as:
- Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush before bed and after every meal. If you are wearing braces, you need to pay further attention to the areas around the brackets and the gumline.
- Flossing at least once daily.
- Incorporate the use of an antibacterial mouthwash to boost gum health and fight plaque.
- Avoid using oversized toothpicks and overly aggressive brushing.
- Ensure that you see your dentist and orthodontist regularly.
How do you fix black triangles?
Fortunately, black triangles can be treated, and it depends on what caused them. Some of the treatment options include:
- Interproximal reduction: If black triangles were caused by the shape of your teeth, then interproximal reduction is conducted to file down your enamel gently, reshaping your teeth. After which, braces are necessary to move the teeth into their new position, and the black triangles will be gone or reduced.
- Tissue engineering or grafting: For severe gum disease or recession, your dentist might recommend regrowing your gum tissue, which can be achieved through tissue engineering and gum grafting.
- Cosmetic dentistry:A dentist can enhance the appearance of your teeth with bonding materials to reduce or eliminate black triangles. Recontouring procedures, veneers, and dental crowns are some examples of methods to eliminate black triangles.
Adequate proper dental hygiene will help you avoid the development of black triangles. While orthodontic treatment may reveal the existing issues of black triangles, they are by no means the only reason for the development of black triangles.
Looking to fix your black triangles or a treatment plan to fix your teeth and avoid black triangles? Bigsmile Dental Clinic has got you covered. Our clinic will be moving from our existing location to 442 Orchard Road, #02-11, Claymore Connect, 238879, and will be re-opening on 15 January. Contact us today to make an appointment at our new location!