Several weeks ago, I visited an emergency dentist because of an intense toothache. After his assessment, he concluded my tooth was fine, but it did have a small crack in it. He later placed a new crown, and, although the pain was better, it was not gone. The dentist suggested that I would need a root canal if the pain did not go away. While it is better, it has not gone away. However, I would prefer to not have a root canal, so I’ve been trying to remedy the pain with Ibuprofen, but there really hasn’t been any change, and today, I noticed the tooth next to it changing to an almost gray color. Is it possible that the crown is whiter than my other tooth? Or, is it possible that the work of the emergency dentist I saw could have done something to the other tooth?

Thank you,
Vicki

Dear Vicki,

Teeth turn gray when they are dead or injured, similar to our skin bruising after trauma, but our teeth are behind an enamel surface. The treatment for this is a root canal because the tooth needs cleaned out and filled from the inside, to prevent the build-up of bacteria, which will, in turn, cause infection. The sooner this issue can be addressed, the better.

It is unlikely that the emergency dentist caused this. It could be that your tooth was hurt or damaged all along. Teeth often cause the teeth around them to be in pain. If this is the case, the original diagnosis may be incorrect. Another possibility is that both of your teeth could have been injured at the same time. This would be true, for example, if you bit down on something hard, causing trauma to the graying tooth, and causing its neighbor tooth to crack. While the tooth may not have died right away, it could be slowing fading with time. Finally, it is possible that the two teeth have issues which are completely unrelated. Lastly, you could be looking at two totally unrelated incidents, which happen to be affecting two neighbor teeth. You will likely never know if the original diagnosis was incorrect. However, if you believe this is the case, ask the original dentist for a copy of the x-ray and seek another option from a different dentist, and also have the gray tooth assessed. If something was missed on the original x-ray, you should receive a refund for what you paid to have the crown done. However, if nothing was missed, the dentist’s actions were based on your original symptoms, and the diagnosis may or may not have been correct.

This post is sponsored by Vista Dorada Dental,Gilbert AZ, Dr. Matthew Roper.