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Why Is My Tooth Turning Gray?

Posted by Joel Hiller on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 @ 10:11 AM

Our smile is a big part of our personal appearance. If you have a tooth turning gray, you may be unhappy with it because it can make your smile less attractive, which will make you less confident in social situations. However, the appearance of a graying tooth can be more serious than just an aesthetic concern: it can indicate a more serious underlying situation. The best course of action if you notice this problem is to visit a dentist as soon as you can.

There are two main reasons teeth turn gray:

1. There has been some sort of trauma to the tooth.

If trauma such as an impact has occurred, the tooth may be dead, and the nerve may be irritated, dying, or dead. Sometimes you traumatize it without realizing by biting down hard or awkwardly, or by grinding your teeth in your sleep. One of the main reasons people ask why their tooth is turning gray is that sometimes it is a result of trauma that occurred years earlier, and it has simply taken time for the pulp of the tooth to die completely. Even if you do not recall any kind of trauma to your tooth, there is a high likelihood that this is the cause of the graying. Visit a dentist to have it confirmed.

If the cause of the gray tooth is trauma and a dead or dying tooth, it is easy to diagnose with an x-ray. The next step is for the doctor to do a root canal. When a tooth dies, bacteria will feed on the dying nerve tissue. The bacteria in the pulp may be releasing a substance that can turn the tooth gray. If the decay and dead nerve tissue is not removed, the tooth can become infected, and you may lose the whole tooth, which is a much more difficult situation to remedy. A root canal is a much better option than a bridge or an implant.

After a root canal, you can get a crown put on the tooth. If it is an anterior tooth, and you do not want an unsightly smile, you could have the tooth bleached from the inside to give it a lighter shade and match the other teeth.

2. You have been exposed to the antibiotic tetracycline.

This antibiotic may be the cause of your tooth turning gray, if your mother took it while she was pregnant with you, or if you took it before you turned 6 years old. It can have a delayed effect, with teeth turning gray years later. This is a much less common cause of graying than trauma to the tooth.

In addition to these main causes, there are rare cases when bleeding inside the tooth can cause it to turn gray. In this case the problem may resolve itself, but usually not. Most of the time, the graying is caused by the bacteria found in the dead nerve tissue inside your tooth. Crowning, bleaching, and veneers can help restore the appearance of the tooth, but a root canal is usually necessary.

If your tooth or teeth are turning gray, the best thing you can do is visit a dentist for a proper physical and X rays. They will recommend the best treatment. If a root canal is needed, then an endodontic doctor is a great option to achieve the best results.

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net