Childhood Accidents: When Your Child's Tooth Turns Gray

It is alarming when your child's tooth turns gray or almost black after an accident. Whether your child fell off a swing, or crashed into a sibling on their way to the favorite chair, a discolored tooth is a sign that there has been an injury within the past few weeks.

Why Baby Teeth Turn Dark

Children are always bumping their teeth, most times without parents even knowing it. When a tooth turns dark, this is because the blood flow has been disrupted from the injury. Think of the darkened tooth as similar to a bruise. There is nothing you can do for a bruised tooth beyond watching the tooth for signs of infection. If the tooth is a permanent one, it's time to go to the dentist for an assessment of the tooth.

Baby Teeth Can Lighten Back Up

If your child's tooth has turned gray, purple, or black, the tooth can return to it's original color over time. It can take up to six months for the bruise in your child's tooth to go away because the blood supply to the area isn't sufficient. A bruise on the skin is similar, in that it requires excellent blood flow to heal, but a bruise on the skin heals faster because the blood supply is abundant.

If the Baby Tooth Does Not Lighten Back Up

Now that you have been watching your child's gray tooth for six months, and it hasn't changed in color, there is no reason to panic. This baby tooth will eventually be lost by your child, and a gray tooth does not indicate a bigger dental problem. The tooth that will eventually replace this baby tooth won't be affected. A dark tooth simply means that the there was an injury, and that the blood supply was unable to reach the tooth effectively.

Abscess After an Injury Can Happen But It's Rare

If your child has a darkened tooth, monitoring your child's tooth for signs of abscess is important. While abscesses in a bumped tooth are rare, if an abscess occurs, it has to be treated immediately. Signs of an abscess in a baby tooth include:

  • foul smelling breath
  • open sores that drain fluid on the gums
  • pain, either with chewing, cold or hot fluids
  • fever

If your child begins to complain of tooth pain, it's important to take them to a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. Pain is a clear indicator that something is wrong within your child's mouth, and being proactive can prevent further complications.