A tooth that turns brown can be caused by many things, but it is commonly caused by an injury. This discoloration usually takes place a few weeks after bumping or injuring the tooth. With injured teeth, the color change is initially gray or purple and darkens within a month.
Other possible causes of a darkened tooth include:
At the first sign of your child’s discolored tooth, you should take them to the dentist to get evaluated. If cavities, conditions, and staining from medication have all been ruled out, then it is like the discoloration was caused by injury.
However, if it doesn’t darken within this time, it’s a sign that the tooth is already healing itself. Most injured baby teeth will lighten on their own, but some don’t lighten at all, depending on if the blood supply has been damaged.
It can take several months for baby teeth to lighten. If the tooth becomes an opaque white color, this is a sign that the canals inside the tooth have closed and are protecting the tooth. In this case, the tooth will probably not have any further problems and will blend in with the natural teeth pretty well.
If your child’s damaged tooth is a permanent tooth and does not lighten, it is a bigger problem. When permanent teeth experience trauma, they typically aren’t able to heal and may require a root canal. Dark-colored permanent teeth indicate that the tooth is dead. Root canals involve removing the dead pulp inside of the tooth.
Discolored baby teeth will require observation and a visit to the dentist. If there isn’t any sign of infection, treatment may not be necessary. The tooth will fall out on its own and usually not impact the health of permanent teeth.
It is not ideal to leave a gap between the teeth, so if there are no signs of problems with the tooth, it can be left alone. The main issue that needs to be looked out for is the development of an abscess.
When the nerve inside the tooth dies, an abscess can form. Signs of an abscess are swelling of the gums, near the root of the tooth. If your child has an abscess, a baby root canal or extraction may be warranted. Because root canals on baby teeth are only 50% effective, you may want to have the tooth removed
The best way to determine the cause of your child’s tooth turning brown is to contact us at Harmony Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics for an examination. We can identify any problems with the tooth, and advise you if anything needs to be done or if the tooth just needs continued observation.