woman having teeth checked

True Colours: 3 Reasons Your Teeth Are Going Gray or Blue

Perhaps it’s due to the thousands of toothpaste commercials with their bright-white-teethed models that’s making you anxious about your teeth going gray or bluish — but here’s a consolation: it may not just be the skips and slip-ups on good hygiene that’s causing this. Here are some of the reasons why your teeth have discoloured:

You were exposed to antibiotics early.

If you took the antibiotic tetracycline for a certain period when you were young, there’s a high chance that this is the cause of the staining on your teeth. This also happens to people whose mothers have taken the drug while pregnant. What happens here is the medication binds to the calcium ions in the teeth. When this happens before the teeth are able to come through the gums, the teeth erupting will have a yellow colour. As it emerges and is exposed to light, the tetracycline will oxidise and make the tooth brown or gray. The staining covers the entire tooth or occurs in horizontal stripe patterns.

Unfortunately, discolouration is permanent. You won’t ever be able to get rid of them with frequent brushing. Professional teeth whitening, as Townsville-based dentists explain, can help eliminate it. Tetracycline was widely used before the 1980s as a treatment for bacterial infections, like rosacea, acne, urinary tract infections, etc. When it was discovered that it had the staining effect on teeth, doctors avoided prescribing it to moms and young children.

You have a rare genetic disorder.

Dentinogenesis Imperfecta is an abnormality in the DSSP gene, which is responsible for tooth development. The gene is like the handbook for the formation of the dentin, the second layer of the tooth structure under the enamel that’s yellow in colour. If there’s something wrong in the DSSP gene, the dentin won’t be formed properly, making the tooth appear discoloured, with yellow-brown or gray-blue shades. It will also be weaker than normal, prone to breaking and falling out.

kid having teeth cleaned

When you go in for treatment, the goal is to protect your teeth from further wear and improve its appearance. Your dentist may recommend amalgams for fillings and then veneers or caps to address the discolouration. They may also use resin restorations and teeth bleaching. If there are lost teeth, you may be advised to wear dentures or go in for dental implant procedure. Note that there are other symptoms of dentinogenesis imperfecta, like hearing loss or weak bones, so you would have to consult with a general practitioner.

You have dead teeth.

If you only notice a few teeth going gray, it’s likely that the teeth have “died.” Yes, there’s such a thing as dead teeth. This occurs when there’s no longer blood flowing through it and the nerves inside the pulp don’t function anymore. This results from different reasons, including tooth decay and dental trauma.

If you think you have a dead tooth, don’t wait for it to fall out. See your dentist immediately. Bacteria can go into the center of the tooth and cause infection. If you go in early for treatment, the dentist may still be able to save the tooth through root canal procedure. If the problem is already too severe, the tooth should be taken out. Later, your dentist will replace the missing tooth with a fixed bridge or an implant.

If you’ve been noticing discolourations on your teeth, pay your dentist a visit soon. Make sure to take note of other symptoms so your doctor can better examine your oral health.