Why has that tooth turned dark and what can you do?

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My child’s tooth is turning dark. What’s happening?

The most common cause of a primary or ‘baby’ tooth becoming dark in colour is if your child has had an injury to the mouth.  The discolouration usually occurs a week or so after injury and typically means the tooth has become displaced or loose.  With milder knocks to baby teeth the tooth may heal normally without any discolouration.

Will the tooth return to its natural colour?

Primary teeth often do lighten over a period of a few months following an injury. The discolouration can resolve itself without treatment if there has been mild trauma to the tooth. Sometimes the tooth may remain slightly darker than its original colour or in the case of more severe injuries, it may not lighten at all.

Permanent or adult teeth that have become discoloured are unlikely to lighten on their own and will often require assessment and further treatment such as root canal therapy.

What can I do if the tooth stays dark?

It is important to have the tooth evaluated by your dentist.  An examination of the baby tooth and surrounding structures and an x-ray, if possible, can determine if there are any signs of infection or damage to the underlying adult teeth.  If there is no infection or damage the tooth can be monitored closely. Often in such cases the discoloured baby teeth may not require any further treatment and the tooth can be allowed to exfoliate naturally.

In cases that the baby tooth does not heal well and develops an abscess or gum swelling, your dentist may recommend antibiotics and root canal therapy to remove the abscess and infection tissue or possibly removal of the baby tooth.

Dr Teodora Kent is highly skilled in all aspects of general dentistry with a particular interest in restorative, cosmetic and paediatric dentistry.  For an appointment with Dr Kent, please call: 6733 9882 or click here

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