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Dental and Oral Health (Children)

Trauma to front tooth

12/27/2007

Question:

two weeks ago my son was elbowed in the mouth playing football. He said it bled for alittle bit and he was okay. he checked and his teeth were not loose. he did not tell me about this at first but about three days later I noticed one of his one front tooth was discolored. during the entire time he said it did not hurt. Will the discoloration go away. he just got his braces off a few months ago. I am sick over this . his one tooth is brownish. do we need to wait and see what happens and for how long.

thank you.

Answer:

Thank you for the question. There are several factors that determine how a tooth reacts to trauma, including development stage of the tooth, the nature of the injury, and the post-injury care. Ideally, an xray and a good clinical exam would give an indication as to the extent of the injury.

Interestingly, there are thought to be different mechanisms for teeth that discolor immediately, or soon after trauma (thought to be blood by-products "bleeding" inside the tooth), and those that discolor much later (thought to be a product of a "dying" nerve inside the tooth). It does seem, anecdotally, that many teeth that discolor right after the injury can regain their original color over time.

I would follow up with a general dentist who has experience dealing with dental trauma, or a pediatric dentist, or endodontist. Your orthodontist who did the braces may have good referral sources. Vigilant follow-up is one way to catch /address problems.

Thanks again, and I hope this helps. Good luck.

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Response by:

Sarath  Thikkurissy, DDS, MS Sarath Thikkurissy, DDS, MS
Professor
Director, Residency Program, Division of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati