How Trauma Causes Tooth Discoloration, And How To Deal With It

Posted on: 27 April 2016

Intrinsic tooth discoloration affects the pulp, the inner part of the tooth that contains nerve and blood vessels. Dental trauma is one possible cause one cause of intrinsic tooth discoloration. Here is what happens when you experience tooth trauma, and how you can deal with the resulting discoloration:


If a tooth experiences a sudden severe shock, it bleeds just like any other part of the body can bleed. The blood flows into the pulp chamber and seeps into the dentinal nerves, getting trapped there. After a short while, the trapped blood clots and the pigments show through the enamel as internal discoloration. Thus, severe bleeding causes serious discoloration.

Tissue Damage

Apart from blood clots, dead tissues may also show up as dark areas through the enamel. When you knock your tooth, some of the internal tissues may also get damaged and die. This kind of discoloration may not show up immediately after your injury; it may take a few days later. It may also represent extensive damage that may present more than cosmetic issues.

The Solutions

If you aren't sure of the extent of the injury, it's best to consult a dentist to diagnose the extent of the injury. Fortunately, the damage is merely cosmetic most of the time. Mild discoloration may disappear (after some time) without intervention, but severe staining requires treatment. In that case, typical solutions include:

  • Cleaning – Careful removal of the dead tissues and blood clots, so they don't show up as discolored patches through the enamel.
  • Root canal treatment – This is only advisable for a tooth that has turned completely black, which indicates a necrotic tooth. A necrotic tooth means the pulp is completely dead and no longer supports living tissues or nerves. Such a tooth has an increased risk of infection and should be promptly treated.
  • Internal bleaching – In this case, the dentist applies the bleaching agent directly to the affected inside of the tooth, may also help.
  • Dental restoration – In severe cases, you may have to resort to dental restoration to deal with intrinsic discoloration.  For example, you may use dental crowns, veneers or bonding materials to cover up the stained tooth and restore your bright smile.

If your tooth is discolored after dental trauma, don't waste your time with at-home whitening techniques. Such treatments don't penetrate to the inside of the tooth. The best thing is to consult with your dentist, evaluate the available teeth whitening options, and choose the best one for your case.