Dark tooth why your child has a discolored tooth oral answers aftercare for tooth extraction

Any time a tooth suffers an injury, there is a possibility that it may turn a different color. If you’re wondering what it means if your child’s tooth has turned pink, red, gray, black, brown, or yellow, then you’re the reason I wrote this article!

When blood leaks out of blood vessels after a tooth injury, blood by-products such as iron can make their way into the small tubes inside the dentin layer of the tooth. As the blood breaks down, it can make the tooth appear to be gray, dark gray, brown or even black. This color change doesn’t usually occur until 2-3 weeks after the tooth has been injured and can occur after a tooth has turned red (see below.)

The book Paediatric Dentistry by Welbury states that “although the reaction is reversible to a degree, the crown of the injured tooth retains some of the discoloration for an indefinite period.


In cases of this type, there is some chance that the pulp will retain its vitality, although the likelihood of vitality is apparently low in primary teeth with dark gray discoloration.”

Basically, the author is stating that even if a tooth has a dark color, it may still be able to return to health. Some experts have said that the darker the discoloration, the more likely it is that the nerve of the tooth has died. For example, this study “found that 33 of 51 traumatized teeth with gray-black discoloration were necrotic.” However, other experts state that the shade of darkness doesn’t reflect the health of the pulp.

If your child’s tooth has turned dark, the best thing to do is to have your child’s dentist look at it. If there are other signs that the tooth is dead such as swelling or an infection that shows up on the x-ray, then your child’s dentist will probably choose to do something about it such as performing a root canal treatment or removing the tooth.

If there is no sign of infection in a dark tooth, the dentist may choose to not do anything and let the tooth eventually fall out on its own when the permanent tooth is ready to take on its role in the mouth. A study by Sonis showed that 72% of darkened teeth fell out normally without any bad effects on the permanent tooth.

Also, if there are no other signs of infection, this study showed that there is no need to do a root canal. The researchers concluded that “Root canal treatment of primary incisors that had change their color into a dark-gray hue following trauma with no other clinical or radiographic symptom is not necessary as it does not result in better outcomes in the primary teeth and their permanent successors.” When Your Child’s Tooth Turns Red or Pink After a Tooth Injury

If a tooth turns red shortly after being traumatized, it usually means that the blood vessels inside the pulp broke. When the blood vessels rupture, blood leaks inside the whole pulp area of the tooth resulting in a reddish pink color. This condition is known as pulpal hyperemia.

As a result of trauma, sometimes cells inside the tooth start eating away at the hard layers of the tooth through a process called internal resorption. These cells are called odontoclasts and in certain cases they can eat away to the outside of the tooth within a few short weeks. The tooth looks pink because as the pulp layer of the tooth gets bigger, its red color more easily shines through the thin layer of remaining tooth structure.

A man named James Howard Mummery first noticed this “pink spot” that appears on teeth, which is why it is typically referred to as pink tooth of Mummery. Pink tooth of Mummery can start occurring anywhere from a few weeks to months after a tooth is injured.

These teeth are usually kept until the crown of the tooth is dissolved. Then the tooth root can either be removed or it can be left to get dissolved spontaneously as the permanent tooth comes into your child’s mouth. When Your Child’s Tooth Turns Yellow After a Tooth Injury

The dentin layer of a tooth under the enamel is normally a yellow color. If a tooth reacts to an injury by laying down a lot more dentin, it is known as pulp canal obliteration (Also called calcific metamorphososis, progressive canal calcification or dystrophic calcification.)

It is important to regularly follow-up with your child’s dentist about any teeth that have turned yellow after an injury. The book Paediatric Dentistry by Welbury notes that “a small percentage [of yellow teeth] demonstrate pathologic change many years after the injury.” Conclusion

Many times parents want to rush treatment when their child’s tooth changes color. It is important to understand that “in the primary dentition of a healthy child, color change alone does not indicate a need for pulp therapy or extraction of the tooth ( Pinkham.)”

Basically, if your child’s baby tooth has changed color, often the best treatment is no treatment. As long as an infection doesn’t develop, simply waiting it out and seeing what happens could mean that your child doesn’t have to go through unnecessary dental treatment. And that’s a good thing, especially after they’ve already been through a traumatic tooth injury.

Do you have any stories, questions, or comments about tooth discoloration? Do you still have a question that I didn’t answer? Feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section below so that we can all learn from each other – Thanks for reading! Submitted Photos

Thank you for this article and your response to Miriam’s comment. My son who is 7 had two teeth trauma accidents when he was younger. The first was his two front bottom teeth at age 1.5 yrs and the second involved his front top 4 and bottom 2 teeth at age 3. When he was 6 and his teeth began changing, 4 of his permanent teeth came in discolored. The two bottom teeth, I could see the vein redish-orange and fade to large brown/yellow spot,s which are still very prominent. His two front top teeth also came in with brown discoloration. I asked our family doctor and told him I thought it was from the trauma but he did not agree. After reading your article, I now know that I am correct as we are very diligent about oral hygiene and that they aren’t cavities. They do not create any pain or discomfort for my son but I have noticed that it appears the bottoms teeth are losing enamel or wearing at the base of his gums. What is the treatment for these teeth issues? He is so young and we do not have any health or dental insurance as a large family with a small business. Also, I prefer holistic treatment as much as possible. What options do we have? Thank you so much.

I’m hoping you see this comment. My daughter injured her teeth from a fall that chipped one of her front tooth and moved the other 2 on both sides of said tooth (#61 I think based on her dental notes). The front tooth next to it shifted forward and the other one to it’s right pushed up and slightly back. Her gums bled and I iced her and made sure to really clean and watch for infections. Took her to the dentist and they said to just observe but bring her in if it turns grey. 2 weeks later it turned grey and is getting a bit darker after I first noticed it (tooth #51 next to chipped tooth). I took her in again as advised and they performed an x-ray. Her dentist said the tooth is dead and that she has to perform “endodentric” treatment where they will go inside the tooth and fill it from the inside. They won’t use anesthetics because it’s dead and she shouldn’t feel anything. All this to prevent any future infections. But my question is that if this is even necessary because my daughter tells me she has feeling on that tooth if I put pressure on it (it wiggles just a bit and also she now has a hard time eating corn on the cob). There are no signs of infection and we are very diligent with dental care. We are also in Vietnam and there is a language barrier that’s why I’m so lost. I will take her in for a second opinion. I’d really appreciate your input. Thanks!