If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and have had the surprise of noticing that one of your teeth is suddenly gray, you were probably shocked and wondered what could cause such a thing. Graying of teeth can happen over time or more suddenly, and at first you might question if your teeth are actually turning color or if you’re just imagining that they are. Unfortunately, it is not terribly uncommon to experience discoloration of a tooth. There are a few reasons for this:
- Trauma causing discoloration to a single tooth or a few teeth in the same area
- Issues with tooth development
- Staining either internally or externally
- Discoloration due to aging and enamel thinning
There are cases where a discolored tooth is nothing to be concerned about and, with treatment, the tooth could return to its normal color in time. But there are also circumstances where you should visit your dentist as soon as possible upon spotting a gray tooth.
Does a Gray Tooth Mean My Tooth is Dead?
Just because your tooth is gray doesn’t mean the tooth is dead. In some cases, the gray might be due to external discoloration and can be treated using whitening treatments either at home or provided by your dentist’s office. If whitening treatments don’t make a difference in returning your tooth to its white color, then your dentist will likely find damage internally in your tooth’s vital tissues.
Within each of your teeth is a hollow chamber containing nerves and blood vessels. This bunch of nerves and vessels is known as pulp and if it dies, your tooth will turn gray or even purplish. The change in color can be likened to that of how a bruise will change color over time, however, most bruises eventually heal on their own. A dead tooth will not.
Why is My Tooth Gray
It isn’t uncommon for teeth to turn gray as people age, but if your tooth is gray and you feel like you should still be a few years away from graying teeth, there are other culprits to blame. If you’ve sustained injury to a tooth or a few teeth, it’s possible that blood flow to the gray tooth could be cut off. Likewise, decay due to lack of dental hygiene or regular dental checkups and cleanings can also lead to teeth or a tooth turning gray.
Causes of Gray Teeth
Depending on whether you have sustained injury or trauma to your jaw lately, gray teeth can come as a result of a few other factors. Dental restorations such as crowns or silver fillings, the materials used in those practices can occasionally cause a tooth to turn gray. Particularly if you have fillings from childhood, it is possible that the metal from the filling can discolor the tooth it’s meant to protect. Medications that are used during a root canal procedure can also have an effect on the color of your teeth. Ledermix or Ultracal XS, both contain ingredients that can contribute to the graying of teeth, but feel free to ask your dentist before the procedure if there are any other options that have less noticeable side-effects.
If your child is experiencing his or her teeth turning gray, it could be due to having taken the antibiotic tetracycline. Likewise, if you or your child’s mother took tetracycline during her pregnancy, it is also possible that your child’s teeth will turn gray as a result.
Treatment for Gray Teeth
No one wants to see their smile or even just one of their teeth begin to turn gray, and we at Pickett Family Dental know how important it is to give our patients a smile they can feel good about showing off. If you’ve struggled with graying teeth or are concerned about one tooth in particular that is showing signs of turning gray, call our office at 817-431-5514 or schedule an appointment so we can get your tooth taken care of as soon as possible.