Most of the time when people experience tooth discoloration, it’s the entire smile that becomes discolored. And this is normally what we treat with teeth whitening. However, sometimes just one tooth will turn darker than the others.

When this happens, teeth whitening is usually not the solution. Here are some of the reasons why one tooth is darker than the others, and how we will treat them.

Uneven Staining

Most external stains tend to affect your teeth equally, but that’s not always the case. In some situations, one or two teeth will get stained more than the others. We see this most often with cigarette smoking, where the smoke gets drawn into the mouth in a particular area and stains the teeth that are in front of them. Sipping coffee can also lead to staining in the front of the mouth, causing maybe one or two teeth to darken.

The good news is that these surface stains will respond to teeth whitening. Even if you’ve tried over-the-counter solutions without luck, we should be able to remove the stains with professional strength whitening.

Metal Amalgam Fillings

Some tooth treatments can look as bad as leaving a tooth untreated. Metal amalgam fillings can start out silver, but they can tarnish or rust, turning black. When this happens, it might not be just the filling that turns dark, it can also be the entire tooth. Even if the initial filling isn’t visible, the darkening effect might be.

Once the tooth is darkened, we will probably want to replace the filling responsible, but that won’t brighten the tooth. Instead, we’ll want to cover it with a dental crown or veneer to give it a bright, beautiful appearance again.

Tooth Trauma

Tooth trauma can cause a tooth to darken. The darkening is caused by injury to the tooth, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the injury is serious.

Sometimes, a tooth darkening is basically equivalent to a bruise. There’s been some minor damage to the tooth pulp, the living part of the tooth. The pulp can recover, and, often, the tooth will return to brightness with time. This takes longer than a bruise on your skin. And a bruised tooth doesn’t always brighten.

Other times, the tooth might darken because the injury to your tooth is more serious. If the tooth has been injured and has died inside, we need to take more serious steps. A tooth that’s dead inside needs a root canal treatment. This procedure removes the pulp from the tooth, and then we use a dental crown to make the tooth attractive again.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay starts as bright white demineralized spots, but these turn dark as the decay progresses into cavities. The darkness might only be at the point where there’s decay. However, when the decay worsens, the entire tooth can look darker than its neighbor.

Decay can also cause the tooth to die, because the cavity reaches the tooth pulp. This allows oral bacteria to attack the tooth pulp, an infection. This infection can cause serious pain.

When decay reaches the tooth pulp, root canal therapy is used to treat the infection. Then a dental crown is used to give the tooth its bright appearance again.

Why Is Your Tooth Dark?

If you have a tooth that’s gone dark, we can help you track down the cause. Once we’ve identified the cause, we can recommend treatments that will restore the health and beauty of your smile. We know that making one perfect tooth is the greatest challenge in cosmetic dentistry and we’re prepared to give you a perfectly matched smile.

To learn how your darkened tooth can be made beautiful again, please call (248) 656-2020 today for an appointment with a Rochester, MI cosmetic dentist.