Is Your Tooth Simply Discolored or Is It Dead?

discolored teeth

Imagine you’re walking past a nice public park. There are enough clouds and breezes that the day is comfortable instead of stifling. Some kids are playing soccer on the grass, darting after the ball.

It’s a perfect day for your walk around the park.

Suddenly, one of the kids kicks the ball too hard and, before you know it, it’s flying toward your face. It hits you square in the mouth. Flash-forward a day after that. You look in the mirror and you see that the cut on your lip looks better, but hold on, what’s this? One of your teeth has turned grayish. Is it just discolored it or is the tooth dead?

It Just Discolored the Tooth

A dentist can solve oral tooth discoloration from plaque and other substances through teeth whitening with Zoom gel or other methods. But discoloration due to trauma requires different treatment altogether. The intensity of the discoloration depends on the severity of the shock the tooth received. After an object hits your teeth, the impact can cause miniature blood vessels in it to burst, causing internal bleeding in its pulp chamber. The blood then seeps into the dentinal nerves and gets stuck in the pulp, which then stains the dentin.

Discoloration from mild trauma, perhaps from a soccer ball kicked by a child, can disappear on its own after a few days or weeks. But severe physical trauma, such as a bad face-first fall or a heavy fist, can require an expert’s intervention to rectify. The treatment involves a dental surgeon carefully removing the dentin and pulp horns that the internal bleeding has stained. This is a difficult procedure because of the inaccessibility of these parts.

But what if the tooth turns black? Unfortunately, your tooth may have died from the impact. Take a moment to mourn its passing.

The Tooth is Dead, Long Live the Tooth

dental check up

A strong shock can burst all the blood vessels flowing into the tooth, cutting off its circulation. Severe discoloration is one of the primary signs that the tooth is dying, pain from the tooth or the gums can accompany this. Other signs that the tooth is dead or dying include a terrible taste in your mouth, foul-smelling breath, and the swelling of the surrounding gum line.

You should seek a dentist immediately if you suspect that one of your pearly whites has ascended to the Pearly Gates. The dentist can then take an X-ray to confirm its condition.  If it has indeed passed on, you should get it treated immediately.

A root canal can let you keep the tooth whole. During a root canal, the dentist drills a hole into your afflicted tooth and uses tiny tools to extract the infected pulp and clean it out. Once they’ve removed all traces of infection, the dentist will put permanent filling to replace the pulp and seal the breach.

If the damage to the tooth is too severe to correct, a dentist may choose to remove the tooth entirely. Your concern should be what happens after the extraction. Are you going to replace the tooth with an artificial one or will you leave the gap?

Teeth discoloration is often the sign of some other dental problem. If you feel that the color of your teeth is somehow off, consult with an oral healthcare professional. And if you ever take a walk in the park, be wary of renegade soccer balls.