You have a smile you are mostly happy with, but there is that ONE tooth that looks darker than the rest! It might be gray or brown or just not quite match the teeth around it.
All you know is that it bugs you to look at.
You are not alone. It is a common problem seen in the dental office. The good news is that it can be corrected!
What Causes Tooth Darkening?
Teeth can darken for a number of reasons.
It may simply be stained. Often a tooth that is out of line from the rest doesn’t get cleaned as well. This leads to stain building up over time.
Certain medications like antibiotics or fluoride supplements can darken teeth. This usually happens when they are given at higher dosages to young children.
Dental restorations can also be the cause. Silver fillings are sometimes used on the backs of teeth and the dark metal can show through. Tooth color fillings match color when placed but may darken the years.
A common reason for dark teeth is trauma. When a tooth is damaged due to a fall, getting hit in the mouth, or similar accidents, the blood supply to the nerve can become damaged.
If the damage is severe, the nerve can die. Since the tooth no longer receives blood and nutrients, it will turn dark eventually.
This can sometimes take months or years to become noticeable. Often, people don’t even remember what happened to cause the trauma!
Dark Tooth Diagnosing
The first step in correcting a dark tooth is to determine why it turned dark. Your dentist will likely first check to see if the nerve is alive or dead. This is called vitality testing.
An ice-cold cotton ball may be touched to the face of the tooth. If you can feel the cold, there is still life in the tooth. How long the cold sensation lingers also gives clues to the health of the nerve.
Another method to check for life is called “Electronic Pulp Testing”. A device is placed onto the tooth that makes an small electric current. If it makes the tooth tingle, the nerve is alive.
If Tooth Is Alive…
If the tooth is still vital, or alive, it may just need whitening. There are some great at home methods of whitening. These work well if staining is the biggest issue.
If the discoloration is deeper in the tooth, it is best to use a stronger method of whitening. Whitening trays use powerful gels that penetrate the tooth enamel and brighten the inside of the tooth.
If you whiten all your teeth with trays, be aware that other teeth may whiten faster than a dark tooth. Continued use will allow the dark tooth to catch up to the rest. You can also just use gel on the single dark tooth.
Dentists also offer professional whitening methods, including laser whitening. These procedures usually work faster than treatment at home but can be much more expensive.
Dead Tooth Whitening
If the nerve of the tooth has died, treatment is more complicated.
A dead tooth is very prone to infection and will likely require a root canal treatment. This removes all the dead tissue from inside the tooth and seals it off to prevent an abscess.
After root canal therapy is complete, a tooth can be internally bleached. A cotton ball with a strong peroxide is placed inside the space where the nerve once was. It is sealed with a temporary filling.
After three or four weeks, the peroxide is removed. If the tooth is lightened enough, a permanent filling can be placed.
If more whitening is needed, a fresh cotton ball with peroxide can be placed instead. The procedure can be repeated several times if necessary.
Sometimes internal bleaching is not enough. If the tooth is particularly dark or the enamel has become fragile, it may need a crown. The porcelain can then be matched to the other teeth.
Before a crown is done, it is a great idea to whiten the rest of your teeth! That way the crown can be matched to the lighter color. Porcelain will not change color with whitening.
Check out the great whitening options from AuraGlow! Our products can have you on your way to a whiter smile today!