Our teeth should be pearly white, ideally. But sometimes, something strange and unsettling happens: we smile in the mirror and see that one or more of our teeth has turned gray.
Teeth aren’t supposed to be gray, so what in the world is going on? And what can you do about it?
Why Teeth Change Colors
Teeth change colors for a lot of reasons.
Most of the time, discoloration is cosmetic. You can stain your teeth with soda, coffee, tea, tobacco, and other substances. By stopping or limiting the activity that’s discoloring your teeth, and brushing regularly (maybe even trying teeth whitening), you can restore the color.
You could also have suffered trauma to the tooth at some point. The substance just below the enamel, the dentin, can be damaged for a variety of reasons ranging from internal bleeding in the tooth to trauma either as an adult or as a young child when your permanent teeth were developing.
But grayness? What causes that?
Causes of Gray Teeth
The most common cause of gray teeth is trauma to the tooth.
If you’ve hit your tooth on something, there is the possibility that your nerve has become damaged and calcified. This can cause the tooth to darken or discolor. The tooth will need a root canal to remove the nerve, followed by internal bleaching to restore the tooth to its normal shade.
Age and corrosion are two additional causes of tooth graying. Drinking or eating substances that wear away tooth enamel causes trauma to your enamel as well; it’s just that the trauma takes a while to kick in. And getting older – well, none of us can avoid that.
A gray tooth is not necessarily indicative of a dental problem, though, and it is not going to result in something like a cavity just because of discoloration (or even an injury).
Fixing the Gray Problem
Most of the time, a gray tooth is a cosmetic problem.
The most common way to treat teeth discoloration is through teeth whitening. But, an increasingly popular method is through porcelain veneers.
Veneers are a thin layer of porcelain or some other composite material that goes over the outside of your teeth. It’s a great way to cover up blemishes, discoloration, or damage, making your teeth look brand new.
At any rate, discoloration can be fixed. So, if a tooth has gone from white to gray, or any color in between, there are things your dentist can do to help. Simply schedule an appointment and take care of it!