A family of three, that includes an adult and two children, brushing their teeth in front of a mirror.

Identifying A Bruised Tooth

When imagining a bruised tooth, you might picture it turning the same colours as bruised skin – various rainbow hues before becoming brownish. But though a tooth can take on shades of yellow, green, and other colours for certain oral conditions, a bruised tooth sticks with pink or grey.

So, what does it mean when it's pink? Or when it's grey? And what exactly causes a tooth to bruise? Learn all about bruised teeth, how to treat them, and the possibilities of saving them.

What Causes a Bruised Tooth?

Just like a bodily bruise, trauma or injury typically causes a bruised tooth. The dental trauma could result from biting down on a hard object (like hard sweets), grinding your teeth, or sustaining a sports injury or any blow to the mouth.

When tooth trauma occurs:

  1. The soft tissue and ligaments around the tooth absorb the impact.
  2. The capillaries around the tooth then burst and travel through the apical foramen, aka the opening at the tip of the root.
  3. That is what leads to tooth discolouration and pain – like bruised skin. The pain might not be limited to the bruised tooth but affect all teeth, front and back.

What a Bruised Tooth Looks Like and Why

The American Dental Association (ADA) on its mouthhealthy.org site puts it simply: Pink means the tooth could be striving to survive. Grey means your tooth probably didn't make it.

Pink Bruised Tooth: If the tooth is pinkish, it could be in a stage where it's aiding in nerve protection – and it might heal to its former colour. However, sometimes the pinkish hue signals internal root resorption, a condition that can lead to tooth loss as your body rejects your tooth.

Grey Bruised Tooth: When the injured tooth turns grey, this typically means the pulp inside it is no longer vital and is at risk for decay. The next step is typically a root canal, followed by capping the tooth with a crown.

No matter the colour of a bruised baby tooth, you probably can wait patiently for it to fall out.

Treating a Bruised Tooth

If you experience dental trauma, please get the care you need as soon as possible. Contact your dental professional immediately for an appointment. Your dental provider will most likely:

  • Take X-rays in case there's damage you can't see.
  • Check for problems, such as abscess, sensitivity, or loose teeth.
  • If necessary, recommend a dental splint or other hardware, an extraction, a root canal, or other oral treatments.

While waiting for the tooth to heal and for your dentist to determine the best treatment, take these steps to soothe the ache or prevent future trauma:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers. An oral injury can be painful. Consult your dentist or doctor to find out what over-the-counter pain medication you could take to treat any swelling and aches. Stronger painkillers will unlikely be necessary.
  • Ask about a custom nightguard or mouthguard. If you grind your teeth while sleeping, wearing a nightguard will protect your teeth and ligaments from future damage. And wearing a custom mouthguard while playing sports is always a safe bet to prevent injuring your teeth and gums. Both can protect your bruised tooth while it heals.
  • Be patient. Treatment for a bruised tooth might not happen immediately. Take time to heal and follow your dentist's instructions to prepare for the next treatment steps. Also, be aware that tooth trauma healing time can vary.

Seeking your dental professional's help is a good call for diagnosing a traumatic dental injury's severity. This is true when you first experience the injury. And it's crucial If your tooth is painful or discoloured, so be aware of the signs of a bruised tooth. Most importantly, let's keep your teeth white and your gums pink!

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