For some people, no matter how often they brush and floss, their teeth never turn that pearly white. Teeth that are tinted yellow, brown, gray and even blue are natural for some people and might not be anything to worry about. Occasionally, however, gray or blue teeth can be a sign of a dental problem. The following are all possible causes of blue-gray teeth.
Causes for Blue or Gray Teeth
1. Natural Tooth Color
Teeth naturally come in a range of colors and shades. A natural cause of tooth discoloration is rare genetic condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta, which affects tooth structure and appearance. The tooth enamel can appear blue-gray or yellow-brown, explains the National Institutes of Health.
2. Early Antibiotic Exposure
Exposure to the antibiotic tetracycline while in the womb or as a young child causes discoloration in adult teeth. Affected teeth develop blue-gray or yellow-brown stains, often in a pattern of horizontal stripes. The stains are permanent and regular brushing won't improve them, but cosmetic dentistry may offer a solution.
3. Dental Restorations
Dental restorations can give the appearance of gray or blue teeth. Silver-colored amalgam, glass ionomer, acrylic, and porcelain and metal crowns may appear blue-gray at the surface of the tooth due to the metallic color showing through a translucent enamel or porcelain surface. If the gray or blue teeth are due to silver fillings, a dentist can often re-fill the tooth with a white amalgam.
4. Dead Teeth
When only one or a few teeth turn gray or blue, it might be because the teeth have died. Though you might think of all teeth as lifeless, at their center are living pulp and nerves. As the American Dental Association explains, if a tooth is damaged due to trauma or infection, the pulp and nerves can die and the tooth turns dark pink, gray or black. If you suspect one or more of your teeth have died, book an appointment with your dentist. Bacteria can enter the empty space at the center of a dead tooth and cause an abscess. A badly decayed tooth may need to be removed, but the dentist may be able to save the tooth with a root canal.
Whitening Gray or Blue Teeth
Though whitening treatments often work best on yellowed teeth, they may improve the appearance of naturally blue or gray teeth. Your dentist can explain the results you can reasonably expect from in-office or at-home treatments. Whitening treatments can also improve the color of a tooth that has died. However, tetracycline-affected teeth often bleach unevenly. For these teeth and deep gray or blue teeth, crowns or veneers may give a better result. Whatever the shade of your teeth, brush twice a day with a toothpaste for whitening, like Optic White High Impact White. It's enamel-safe whitening that's good for daily use.
It's easy to become self-conscious about your teeth when they aren't white. You may smile less and worry that people think you don't look after your teeth. Once your dentist checks that your teeth are healthy, they can suggest treatments to improve the color so you can smile with confidence.