How to Blacken Your Teeth (Ohaguro)

Ohaguro is the fading ancient practice of dyeing teeth black. The name means "black teeth" in Japanese. Nowadays, especially in Western countries, people want to achieve white and shiny teeth, with modernization, this aesthetic was adopted by Asian countries too, where teeth blackening was born; that's why its practice is now so rare; however, it's still possible to see blackened teeth in isolated villages of China, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, Micronesia (even if in some cases, they're black due to betel nut chewing) or even on Kyoto geisha . This practice has been proved to prevent tooth decay and other oral diseases, as it works as teeth sealant and can contains pharmaceutical plants. You might be interested in this disappearing tradition and want to try it, here you will learn how to make it and apply it in just a few steps and with ingredients that are quite easy to find.


  1. Image titled Blacken Your Teeth (Ohaguro) Step 1
    Gather your supplies. You will have to get yourself an apple cider vinegar bottle, or either grape vinegar, this will work fine too (both can be commonly found in super markets), and some steel wool, which you can find in a hardware shop (Common nails, needles and pins work fine too! You just need to be careful when handling them.) . Then you will need either matcha (green tea powder you can find in most Asian groceries, or either make at home; in this case, you will have to be careful to make a very thin powder) or gallnut (also known as tannins) powder. The choice is up to you, green tea powder is easier to find, gallnut powder is proved to prevent some strains of streptococcus bacteria, but both will work fine for the mixture.
  2. Image titled Blacken Your Teeth (Ohaguro) Step 2
    Leave the steel wool soaked in a container filled with vinegar for five to seven days, until you obtain a dark (bad smelling) substance and you see a silvery-to-rust colored bubbly foam forming on the surface. This is ferrous acetate; despite the scary name, this liquid isn't harmful for humans. To alleviate the bad smell you can correct the liquid with cinnamon or other spice powder depending on your tastes.
  3. Image titled Blacken Your Teeth (Ohaguro) Step 3
    Put the obtained liquid in a bowl and add gallnut powder or tea powder. This will make the ferrous acetate turn black and non-water soluble. Mix everything until you obtain a smooth and deep black mixture.
  4. Image titled Blacken Your Teeth (Ohaguro) Step 4
    Apply to your teeth! Pick up a soft paint or calligraphy brush and soak it in your ohaguro stain mixture; then put it on your teeth in front of a mirror, trying to be precise, just not to waste it, as it can be easily washed away from your gums, tongue and palate. Achieving a deep black will require a few layers. Once you will have achieved the shade you like, rinse your mouth with water until it's free from residues.
  5. Image titled Blacken Your Teeth (Ohaguro) Step 5
    Here you go! If you want to keep your teeth dyed, you should put the mixture on once a day or once every few days.


  • Brush your teeth carefully and deeply before painting them, so that the mixture will last longer.
  • Note that if the vinegar doesn't change color and no white/silvery scum is noticeable at the top, the steel soaking in it is non oxidizable, so it won't have any reaction; but don't worry, simply take it off and replace it with another kind of steel, metallic screws and nails react very fast.
  • Adding sugar to the mixture will suppress the bad taste a little.
  • Ferrous acetate isn't toxic, unless if ingested in very high quantities. It's been used for centuries as a pharmaceutical product, it can cure eczemas and many other skin irritations, but despite this, it would still be better if you didn't swallow it while painting your teeth, mainly because it has a very bad taste.
  • If you want to know more about the meaning of ohaguro you can have a look in the internet and find much info about it.
  • If you live in a western or very modernized city and you are scared about what people may think, ohaguro stain can be used on Halloween and for cosplays too.
  • Even if vinegar is easier to find, you can use sake or other strong alcohols instead; the smell will be more pleasant.
  • Warming up the ferrous acetate before and after adding gallnut/green tea powder will allow it to blend better.


  • If you live in a Western or very modernized city, people might take an over attention about your blackened teeth.
  • You shouldn't apply this dye if you have very sensitive gums or wounds inside of your mouth.
  • Be sure to know if you are allergic to any of the listed ingredients before using this mixture.
  • If you didn't reach the mature age yet, you should ask your parents or tutor before applying this dye, even if after an apply, it will completely fade within a some days.

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Categories: Teeth and Mouth