Most of us would prefer to have white, stunning smiles, and for good reason. According to a 2012 survey from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, one of the “most common responses” to the question “What is the first thing you notice in a person’s smile?” was “whiteness & color of teeth.” Furthermore, this study found: “virtually all Americans (99.7 percent) believe a smile is an important social asset.” This seems to indicate that the tint of your teeth is quite important, and could be impacting your social life. In light of this, it makes sense that “when respondents were asked, ‘what would you most like to improve about your smile?’ the most common response was: whiter & brighter teeth.”
Many people want to improve the color of their smiles, but not all stains are created equal. If you’ve ever peered at your own teeth, you might have even noticed that not all discoloration looks the same. Your teeth might look brown, yellow, or even gray. Understanding what causes the particular discoloration on your teeth is the first step to lightening your enamel and enjoying the dazzling grin you deserve.
Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our Houston dental team are dedicated to helping patients enhance the health and beauty of their smiles with a wide range of general and cosmetic dental treatments. We are always happy to answer your questions and educate you about your smile so you can take even better care of it. In the following blog, we’ll answer the question “why do my teeth look gray?” and explain how we can help you brighten them.
What Makes Teeth Turn Gray?
Having brown stains on your teeth might make more sense, given that these are the colors of many staining foods and beverages (such as chocolate and coffee). Similarly, yellow stains look a lot like plaque and tartar, making them a bit easier to comprehend. In the somewhat wide spectrum of dental discoloration, graying teeth might appear a little more mysterious. You might feel confused or even concerned if you notice your teeth turning gray. However, graying teeth are actually quite common and usually relatively easily explained.
A few of the most common causes for this type of discoloration include:
Thinning tooth enamel. Your tooth’s enamel is its hard, thin (and ideally white) outer layer. Below the enamel lies the dentin, the bony tissue that makes up most of your tooth structure. Dentin is typically darker than enamel. Unfortunately, if anything wears down your enamel, your dentin can begin to show through, giving the tooth a gray appearance. There are several reasons your enamel might erode. These include:
Aging. As you get older, the outer layer of the teeth naturally becomes thinner.
Acid erosion. Drinking soda and juice, as well as eating acidic foods such as citrus, tomato, and certain types of candy, can eat away at your enamel.
Decay. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth properly to remove sugars, starches, and other particulate, bacteria in your mouth will feed on these. The waste of this bacteria is acidic, causing cavities where the enamel has worn down. Cavities often look gray or black.
Trauma or injury to the tooth. An accident or blow to your tooth could damage the nerves and tissues at its center. This could, in turn, cut off the blood supply to the tooth, resulting in a gray appearance. If you’ve recently fallen, gotten hit with a ball, or experienced any other type of oral trauma, it’s important to get your mouth checked. In some cases, you may not realize your tooth has been hurt, and the damage only worsens over time. Dr. Flanagan recommends you come in as soon as you suffer any sort of dental accident or trauma so we can immediately examine and treat the tooth, helping you avoid a tooth infection or another, more complicated issue.
Silver fillings. Silver or amalgam fillings can show through a tooth and make it look gray, particularly on the thinner front teeth. This is one reason our Houston dental practice offers beautiful, natural-looking tooth-colored fillings.
Infected tooth roots. As we explained above, there are nerves and tissues at the center of your tooth. If these become infected (usually due to an untreated cavity or injury) they can interfere with blood flow and cause a grayish look over time.
Certain medications. Tetracycline, a type of antibiotic, can cause gray stains on the teeth if used during childhood, when the teeth are still developing. It also affects developing babies’ teeth if a woman takes the medication during pregnancy. Today, doctors understand this side effect, so they will usually not prescribe it to pregnant women or young children. Certain kinds of mouthwash can also cause staining, as can high blood pressure medications and antihistamines.
These are just a few of the reasons your teeth might be turning gray. For an accurate diagnosis, Dr. Flanagan will need to see you, examine your teeth, discuss your dental habits with you, and perform any necessary tests. Once we know the source of your discoloration, Dr. Flanagan can then help you work to reverse it and enjoy a whiter smile.
Restoring and Repairing Gray Teeth
If you’re suffering from graying teeth, the exact course of treatment Dr. Flanagan recommends will depend on what’s causing your particular discoloration. If you come into our Houston office with this issue, we will design a customized treatment plan for you. Brightening and whitening gray teeth could include:
Our professional teeth whitening treatments. We offer both KöR Advanced Deep Bleaching and ZOOM! Whitening. We typically suggest KöR Advanced Deep Bleaching for patients with gray stains, since it can help with tetracycline staining and other more difficult-to-treat discoloration problems.
Porcelain veneers. The secret of many movie-star smiles, porcelain veneers are thin shells placed over the outer surface of your natural teeth to give you a beautiful smile. As an added bonus, veneers can fix much more than staining and discoloration. They also rapidly correct broken, chipped, misshapen, and crooked teeth.
Tooth-colored fillings. If decay is the cause of your graying teeth, Dr. Flanagan can place one or more tooth-colored fillings to remove the affected tissue and repair your tooth. Furthermore, if a silver or amalgam filling is giving your tooth a gray appearance, we can replace it with a more aesthetic tooth-colored filling. These prostheses are safe, durable, and attractive.
A tooth-colored crown. If a more serious dental trauma or an infected tooth root was the cause of your gray discoloration, Dr. Flanagan can help restore the inside of the tooth (perhaps with root canal therapy, as needed) and place a tooth-colored crown over the top of it, instantly whitening it.
We will help you determine which treatment is appropriate for you at your consultation.
As the old saying goes, “prevention is the best medicine.” If you’d like to avoid graying teeth in the future, there are a few key steps you can take to protect your pearly whites. Dr. Flanagan suggests that you:
Brush your teeth at least twice per day for at least two minutes, as the American Dental Association recommends.
Floss at least once a day. Flossing is the only way to clean between the teeth and under the gums, which is where many cavities, stains, infections, and other forms of dental damage begin.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet, avoiding sugars, starches, and highly acidic foods that could lead to gray discoloration.
Come and see us at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and examination. During this appointment, we will thoroughly scrub your teeth, then Dr. Flanagan will assess your mouth, treat any existing problems before they get worse, and help you improve your overall dental hygiene with additional, individualized advice.
Following these simple guidelines can help you keep your smile as white as possible.
Are Your Teeth Gray? Our Houston Dental Practice Can Help
You shouldn’t have to grapple with graying teeth. Dr. Flanagan and our Houston dental team are here to assist you in any way we can. If you’re suffering from discoloration, or if you haven’t been in to see us for a preventive care appointment in the last six months, contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Original Source: https://flanagansmiles.com/cosmetic-dentistry/teeth-look-gray-2/