If one of your teeth is turning gray or black, then you have an unsightly problem…and potentially a serious one. There are a few causes of gray teeth, but none of them are good.
Causes of Gray Teeth
The first thing to consider with gray teeth is whether it is all your teeth or just one. If all of your teeth are gray, then there are a couple of possible causes:
Natural Aging. Generally, old teeth look yellow, not gray, but age-related thinning of enamel can also result in a translucent and grey color.
Food stains. If you drink a lot of green tea, then that could be the culprit. Buying more expensive tea can help. Some berries can also turn your teeth grey or bluish.
Tetracycline antibiotics. If given to children under 8 or taken by a pregnant woman, these antibiotics can cause a tooth development problem that results in permanent gray stains.
If only one tooth is discolored, then you have one of two other issues:
If you have greyish streaks across the teeth, you may have fluorosis. This can also cause brown spots. Again, this is more common in kids under 8. It’s caused by too much fluoride.
If the discoloration is around a filling, especially an older one, then it might be a stain migrating from the filling. The metal in the filling can transfer its color to the teeth. It is a good idea to have your dentist check the filling to make sure it does not need to be patched.
If a single tooth is grey or black in color, you may have a dying tooth. This is particularly likely if you have had an injury to that part of the mouth. This warrants an immediate call to your dentist, especially if you have any pain around that tooth. You have two options – a root canal or extraction and replacement with an implant or similar. If caught early, your dentist will be able to save the tooth with a root canal, which is always better than a prosthetic.
If in doubt, you should always talk to your dentist about gray or black stains on your teeth, especially if only one tooth is affected, you have had an injury, or there is associated pain.
Fixing the tooth will not, however, remove the stain. Stains on your teeth may not cause health problems, but are always unsightly and can affect your self-esteem. You should make a dentist’s appointment or discuss the discoloration at your next cleaning. Your dentist will advise you on the next steps for fixing the unsightly stain, but treatment options include:
Professional teeth whitening. Your dentist will perform a normal cleaning, then they will apply a gel to your teeth that has to stay there for some time – usually an hour. Alternatively, they may fit you for a custom whitening tray that you can then use at home. Avoid drug store whitening trays which are more likely to cause side effects such as burning on your gums. Whitening treatments cannot help with intrinsic stains but will help with surface stains regardless of the color.
Porcelain veneers. For severe stains that don’t respond to whitening solutions or gels, or for intrinsic staining, a porcelain veneer is an option. Veneers do cause some thinning of natural enamel, so are not recommended for all patients. The dentist will remove a little bit of enamel and then apply a thin coat of porcelain. Veneers can also be used to adjust or correct the shape of your teeth. You will generally have two visits, one to plan the course of treatment and the other to apply the veneers.
Crowns. Crowns are generally used when a tooth is significantly damaged either by an injury or by decay. Modern crowns can be applied in one visit without any temporary crowds.
There are definitely options to get rid of that gray staining, whether or not is associated with health issues. If you have discolored or gray teeth and want to know more about your various treatment options, contact Barron Family Dental today.