Why is my tooth changing colors?

Q. When I was a child around the age of maybe 8 or 9 my brother and I were throwing rocks in the creek where we lived….as I am sure you can guess…my brother bummped my mouth and my front tooth chipped almost at a slant in half…I have had a filled portion on that tooth for a long time now (I am now 31.) However, I have began to notice that it is not as white as it once was and to be honest I think I am the only one that can tell!  Is there anything we can do to fix this or replace this…or “color” it? 

A. The answer is going to depend on whether it is the filling or the tooth itself that is starting to appear darker.

When teeth are traumatized by way of blunt trauma (like a rock!) it often starts the nerve in the pulp of the tooth on a downward spiral. Sometimes it happens immediately but other times it takes years for the nerve of a tooth to eventually die.  Sometimes the tooth will become painful when the nerve dies, other times it dies silently with no discomfort.

When the tooth finally dies, the result is often a darkening of the shade of the tooth due to the lack of a healthy pulp.  These teeth usually require root canal therapy to remove the nerve.  After the root canal therapy, options like internal and external bleaching, a porcelain veneer, or a combination of both can brighten up the darkened tooth.

If only the filling is appearing darker and the tooth still has a healthy nerve, then root canal therapy is not required.  The most common things that cause a filling to darken are decay and/or stain.  If there is decay around the filling, the decay must be removed which usually involves removing the existing filling.  If it is a matter of staining, this can sometimes be fixed by merely smoothing and polishing the filling (depending on where and how much stain there is).

So… the answer is ‘YES!’.  We have multiple treatment options for brightening up your smile!

Do you have a dental question you’d like answered?  Mail your question to 4573 E. State Road 236, Middletown, IN 47356 or email us at ask@titusdentistry.com and watch this column for the answer!