Grey teeth are discolored teeth that are likely result from an underlying condition that could need immediate treatment, and sometimes they are a result of some unhealthy lifestyle decisions or just a sign of aging. Not everyone has naturally white teeth, some people have milk colored teeth, some gray. No matter how often these people brush and floss, their teeth do not appear white, and that is alright.
But for some others, at some point in their life, they begin to notice the gradual change in color of their teeth. There are different types of teeth discoloration that could be caused by different reasons. The focus of this article however is on the grey discoloration of the teeth, causes, how to fix it and a lot of other things you need to know about grey teeth.
You may not be happy when you notice the greying change in color of your teeth, a visit to your dentist will help you understand the cause of this discoloration, and what treatment option will be best.
CAUSES OF GREY TEETH
There are so many reasons why you could have grey teeth, but here are some of the common reasons:
1. AGEING: As we grow older, the color of our teeth begins to change, although most times discoloration due to aging appears yellow, but when the enamel on the outside of the teeth thins out, the dentin which is darker and lies between the enamel and the pulp begins to become visible, the result is the greying of the teeth.
2. TETRACYCLINE: Prior to 1980, pregnant women and children under the age of 8 whose teeth are yet to fully develop were given this powerful antibiotic that is designed to help fight bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infection, respiratory tract infection, gonorrhea, rosacea, acne and other infections in the body. The result of this treatment was grey discoloration that affected a tooth or the entire teeth. However, scientists discovered this, and now, doctors do not prescribe tetracycline to pregnant women and children.
3. DENTAL PROCEDURES: The material used in filling in cavities or those used during a root canal procedure can sometimes cause tooth discoloration. For instance, during root canal process chemicals such as demeclocycline hydrochloride, triamcinolone acetonide or ultracal XS are used. These chemicals can cause the teeth to turn greyish-brown, same thing is applicable to the metals or silver used in cavity for tooth filling.
4. DENTINOGENESIS IMPERFECT: Some people have grey teeth due to preexisting hereditary conditions such as dentinogenesis imperfect which impacts on the milk teeth, and progresses as the child grows, making the permanent teeth to look blue-grey. This condition also causes the teeth to become weak and prone to breakage.
5. TOOTH TRAUMA: Anything that causes trauma to the tooth, causing a restriction in blood flow to the tooth will lead to the tooth turning grey, however, change in tooth color due to trauma may not be visible until after some weeks, months or even years, hence why it is difficult to understand the greying of the teeth as a result of trauma. Trauma to the teeth can also disturb enamel formation in children, and if not treated, can lead to grey teeth. Mental distress can also lead to grey teeth stains.
6. TOOTH DECAY: The same way trauma to the teeth can lead to grey teeth, when plaque or tartar builds up on the teeth, it could cut off blood flow, ultimately causing grey teeth.
7. FLUOROSIS: This is a condition due to too much exposure of the teeth to fluoride while the teeth is still developing, probably from swallowing so much toothpaste, or from drinking a lot of fluorinated water. This causes improper mineralization of the enamel and the dentin layer of the teeth, which leads to grey discoloration and in some cases, mild white spots appear on the teeth.
8. LIFESTYLE: Poor dental hygiene, use of tobacco, and drinks such as coffee or tea can lead to the discoloration of the outer teeth.
DIAGNOSING GREY TEETH
The different causes of grey teeth can make it difficult to treat the condition, to make this easier, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums to determine the cause for the grey color. This could involve an X-ray, sometimes a pulp test is conducted to look for signs of pulp necrosis or determine if the pulp is dead.
Once you notice your teeth color is turning grey, it is very important that you see your dentist as a grey discoloration could be a sign of a dying tooth, and if left unattended to, could spread to the other teeth. Usually, root canal is the treatment for such a case.
HOW TO FIX GREY TEETH
After diagnosing the cause of your grey teeth, your dentist may decide on any of the following treatment options:
Grey teeth can be bleached in dental offices, and although it is not the best option, there are at-home bleaching kits that contain bleaching solution which you can use to bleach your grey teeth yourself. To bleach grey teeth, a bleaching solution is placed on the teeth and left for a while with or without using light to activate the solution. The bleaching solution contains varying concentrations of hydrogen peroxide.
However, to bleach grey teeth caused by tetracycline exposure, your dentist may decide to use a solution containing various concentration of carbamide peroxide solution instead of the hydrogen peroxide. Research proves that using this solution to bleach tetracycline-stained teeth improves teeth color much better.
Also, for non-vital teeth can be bleached internally using a mixture of sodium perborate and water. Non-vital teeth are teeth that have had a root canal treatment. To treat non-vital teeth with the mixture of sodium perborate, the mixture is placed inside the pulp chambers of your tooth. The treatment is repeated severally until the grey color becomes improved.
Otherwise, hydrogen peroxide gel can be placed in the pulp chamber and activated with light or heat for 5 minutes. The gel is removed after is has cool and the teeth reevaluated after 2 weeks to see if it requires any additional treatment. Both internal and external bleaching can be used to treat non-vital grey teeth.
CROWNS AND DENTAL VENEERS
Porcelain crowns or dental veneers can also be used to improve grey teeth caused by tetracycline exposure. A crown is a dental restoration material that is cemented over the affected teeth that has been drilled down to a stub. Without a metal substructure, it wouldn’t be obvious that you have a crown cemented over your teeth as crowns look very natural. Meanwhile, dental veneers are usually bonded to the front of the existing tooth requiring little or no drilling.
CHANGING DENTAL RESTORATION
If your teeth turn grey because of some materials that were used during a dental procedure such as thin porcelain crown or metals used in filling cavities, then your dentist may change them.
HOW TO PREVENT GREY TEETH
Unless the color of your teeth is naturally grey, here are some easy self-care measures that can prevent grey teeth considering the different causes:
- Maintain proper oral hygiene, and keep up with dental visits and professional cleanings to reduce chances of discoloration.
- Avoid using tobacco products and limit your intake of coffee, tea and wine. Brushing your teeth after using any of these products can also help reduce discoloration.
- Pregnant women and young children should avoid the use of tetracycline, especially in self-medication.
- Using a mouth guard when playing sports will protect your teeth from trauma.
- Control the amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush and also reduce the intake of fluorinated water.
CAN TEETH WHITENING BE USED TO TREAT GREY TEETH
As a way of treating grey teeth, some people consider teeth whitening. However, whitening treatments do not work best for grey teeth, although in some cases, you may still get a good result, but your result will depend on how deeply your teeth are discolored and the cause of the discoloration. For instance, using teeth whitening to treat grey teeth caused by tetracycline effect may not give you an even result across all teeth.
GREY TEETH AFTER TEETH WHTENING
After a teeth whitening procedure, you may notice that your teeth turned grey. There are several reasons to consider that could cause this.
- Your teeth may have been damaged before the whitening procedure, and it became irritated afterward.
- Over bleaching your teeth can expose the outer layers of the enamel and the dentin, resulting in a lasting sensitivity and discoloration.
- It could be from the whitening gel used, it could be old, or contain harmful ingredients.
Whatever the reason is for your grey teeth after a teeth whitening process, only a dentist can determine that after examining your teeth and the whitening gel used.
GREY TEETH TODLER
The result of a toddler’s teeth turning grey is seen in a condition known as necrotic teeth. Necrotic teeth are potentially dangerous as they are dead teeth caused when the pulp no longer has a viable blood supply, so the tissues and nerves die. When this happens, bacteria colonize the pulp, and gain access to the blood supply of the rest of the child’s body. So whenever you notice any tooth of your toddler turning grey, make an appointment with a dentist as it could be a sign of necrotic teeth.
Grey teeth are sometimes the natural color of a person’s teeth, and other times, an indication of a dental problem or a result of medication, aging or lifestyle. Depending on the cause, it can be treated, and it also can be prevented. Always make an appointment with a dentist to get your teeth professionally cleaned. This reduces the chances of discoloration.