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Sunday, November 20, 2011

One of My Permanent Front Teeth is Dark

Many times a patient comes in with a front tooth that is dark in comparison to the tooth beside it.  It may be grey or black or dark yellow.  The patient has usually had this tooth discoloration for many years, some from childhood.  They were used to it and it never bothered them until someone said something and now they are asking me.

Generally the discolorations that we are talking about are intrinsic.  That means they come from inside the tooth. 

A tooth that is yellower than the front tooth beside it is usually a result of a blow received to the tooth.  The cells around the nerve of the tooth perceive some sort of challenge and reply by laying down new dentin.  The dentin is the yellower inside of the tooth between the transparent enamel and the pulp of the tooth.  Once you have a lot more of that yellow dentin there, we see the tooth as being yellower than the tooth beside it.
How do we treat this?  We bleach just the one individual tooth and the results are quite good.

A tooth that is grey or black in color has usually had a root canal treatment done to the tooth.  Sometimes some of the root canal filling materials are left in the top part of the tooth, the crown.  It results in discoloration of the crown giving a grey or black color.
The treatment here is an internal bleach of the tooth.  The root canal chamber is openned and any excess rootcanal material is removed.  The tooth still has to be bleached as color has generally leached into the dentin.  A bleach consisting of sodium perborate and hydrogen peroxide is placed in the tooth for a number of days and if the color is not quite right it is repeated.  After the bleaching the tooth is closed with a new white filling.

In both situations these are both relatively simple solutions and work quite nicely, however not all situations are alike and depending on the situation other solutions, such as veneers or crowns, may be required.

I have touched on only two specific types of discoloration.  There are many other reasons for discoloration and best that you consult with your dentist to see why your tooth has discolored and how it can be made to look more aesthetic.

If you have any question, just send me an e-mail and I will reply.
You can also follow my blog at your leisure.

All the best
Dr. Ron Barzilay
A denitist having fun doing dentistry in Hamilton Ontario.


  1. Yeah, our teeth are not hollow. Enamel's just the outer part. Unbeknownst to most, there are many connective tissues inside each and every tooth. That is why we sometimes get brainfreeze when we drink a slushee. That happens when the nerves and tissues like Dentin are affected by the cold.

    Glenn Koehm

  2. how much does it usually cost. im 16 and my family does not have a lot of money. what should i do?