Why a Tooth Might Turn Dark and How to Save It

Healthy teeth are typically a fairly uniform color. They may not be as white as we would like, but they are all pretty much the same color. So when one of your teeth turns dark in color, it can be concerning.

Here are some of the things that can cause one of your teeth to darken and how it might be saved.

Enamel Defect

Our tooth enamel is supposed to be strong, white, and smooth. But defects in the enamel can cause the tooth to be discolored. It’s unusual for this to suddenly cause staining, but it’s possible that defects might be vulnerable to stains.

More often, a defect can serve as a vulnerability that allows decay to take hold.

Tooth Decay and Infection

Cavities are a leading cause of discolored teeth. Although it may take time for a cavity to develop, the discoloration can seem to happen suddenly.

In particular, if the cavity penetrates into the interior of the tooth, it can kill the living pulp inside the tooth. The dead and decaying tissue can cause the tooth to turn dark in color.

Metal Amalgam Fillings

Although fillings are often used to treat cavities, they can sometimes be as bad as the cavity itself. Metal amalgam fillings start out silver, but they can oxidize and turn black. The blackened filling can turn an entire tooth dark, especially when some of the filling seeps into the tooth enamel.

Tooth Trauma

Your teeth can also be darkened if they suffer a blow. Usually, you’ll know if this is why your tooth is darkening, but not always. Sometimes the blow to the tooth might not seem enough to cause serious problems, but may result in discoloration.

This may be a sign that the tooth nerve has died inside. Or it may just be that the tooth has been bruised. The blood in the tooth can cause it to discolor. Unlike bruises on your skin, a bruised tooth may never regain its healthy color.

Treatment Options for a Discolored Tooth

We will evaluate your tooth to determine the cause of the discoloration and recommend an appropriate treatment. Sometimes, if the tooth is healthy, we might recommend a more serious form of teeth whitening, called tooth bleaching, that can sometimes whiten the tooth. Results are unpredictable, but it’s a noninvasive option.

More often, restorations like porcelain veneers or a dental crown are recommended to cover the discolored tooth.

If your tooth is infected, root canal therapy is recommended to remove the infection. The tooth remains dead, but it can function naturally, and may actually continue to function for a lifetime. Most importantly, the procedure stops the infection from becoming more serious and spreading to the rest of the body.

If you want to learn what’s the best approach to restoring your discolored tooth, please call (281) 367-5559 today for an appointment with Woodlands dentist Dr. Scott Young, Purveyor of Fine Dentistry.