why do my teeth look gray or blue

We all like to have a bright and beautiful smile. But sometimes, no matter how much you brush and floss, your teeth never turn white.

Are you among those who have tinted teeth? Although having gray or blue teeth may indicate a dental problem, many people naturally have tinted gray, blue or yellow teeth.

Tooth discoloration often occurs as a result of trauma to the tooth enamel due to a fall or a hit to the mouth or even due to a pulp infection.

Such teeth may not produce any symptoms as such, but they need to be checked by a dental professional to prevent any further complications.

Most of the times, the discoloration is only superficial and confined to the enamel.

But a proper dental examination can help to eliminate the possibility of pulp infection which may require intensive dental care.

There are many causes of tooth discoloration and every cause has an appropriate treatment. Let’s quickly get into the article to find out what causes tooth discoloration and how it can be treated.

What is tooth discoloration?

Tooth discoloration is defined as an abnormality in the color, hue or transparency of the tooth. (1) Tooth discoloration can happen in two ways –

  • Intrinsic tooth discoloration – this occurs by absorption of certain pigment particles into the tooth structure. Such discolorations may require planned dental treatment.
  • Extrinsic tooth discoloration – this occurs as an accumulation of stains on the surface of the tooth. Such stains are easy to remove by professional cleaning.

Tooth discoloration can be caused by several factors and may turn the tooth yellow, brown, gray and blue.

What causes blue or gray teeth?

Tooth staining is widespread and can happen to anyone. Although tooth discoloration can be of any color, commonly a yellow tint is taken as a form of extrinsic staining.

Many people get confused when they notice their teeth turning blue or gray. Let’s look at some of the causes that turn the teeth blue or gray:

Genetic disorder

A natural cause of tooth discoloration is a rare genetic disorder known as Dentinogenesis Imperfecta.

This condition not only changes the structure and appearance of the tooth but also causes tooth discoloration turning it blue, gray or brown. (2)

Antibiotic exposure

Prenatal exposure of antibiotic like tetracycline can adversely affect the tooth color of the child especially the permanent teeth. Teeth affected by this exposure show a typical appearance of tooth discoloration in the form of blue, gray or brown horizontal strips all along the surface of the tooth. (3)

Such stains cannot be treated by regular brushing and may need professional attention to give it a natural shade.

Thinning of tooth enamel

With age, the layer of enamel gradually becomes thin. Another factor that may lead to thinning of enamel includes acid erosion while consuming acidic food and beverages like soda and citrus juices.

Once the enamel becomes thin, it reflects the underlying dentin which makes the tooth look yellow, blue or gray.

Trauma to the tooth

Any injury or trauma to the tooth directly impacts the health of the pulp. If the pulp gets damaged, it cuts off the blood supply to the tooth structure and leaves it dead.

Such teeth eventually turn blue or gray and might require immediate dental attention to eliminate any complications.

Dental Fillings

When silver amalgam fillings or crowns with a metal base are placed on the front teeth, its gray color might reflect through the thin translucent layer of enamel.

Dead tooth/Root canal treated tooth

A tooth with an infected pulp or a tooth that is being managed by a root canal treatment may gradually turn blue and gray over time.

A dentist will be able to detect the underlying cause, such as an infection or tooth abscess, and treat the affected tooth appropriately.

What are the treatments available?

With advancement in the field of dentistry, it has become very easy to treat discolorations of the tooth effectively, bringing back a bright and beautiful smile.

The treatment of the tooth depends on the cause of the discoloration:

  • Teeth whitening procedure – Teeth whitening is the most popular and advanced dental treatment done to treat discolored teeth. The bleaching agent chemically reacts with the enamel structure and turns the teeth to a standard shade. Often teeth affected by tetracycline may whiten unevenly, for that purpose other treatment options can be discussed with the dentist. A teeth whitening procedure may cost you around $300 -$1000. (4)
  • Porcelain veneers – Veneers act as partial tooth covers that are placed on the surface of a natural tooth, giving it a lifelike appearance. Unlike teeth whitening, veneers are bonded over the tooth surface and are an excellent choice to cover severe discolorations, broken teeth, etc. Porcelain veneers may cost around $950 – $2500 per tooth. (5)
  • Minor spots or patches of discoloration can be treated merely by a tooth-colored filling like composite. Composites chemically and to the enamel and dentin and provide a natural appearance to the tooth. A composite filling may range from $135 – $240 per tooth.
  • For a root canal treated tooth, a ceramic crown provides strength and a natural look to the tooth and keeps it functional for a long time. Ceramic crowns may cost $500 – $1500. (6)

Take away message

In today’s world, everyone has become conscious about their looks and one of the critical aspects of aesthetic is the smile of the individual.

Teeth discolorations can instantly make a person insecure about their smile and lower down their confidence.

But with advancement in the field of aesthetic dentistry, there are several options available to treat discoloration such as blue or gray tooth.

A dentist can check and diagnose the cause of the tooth discoloration and provide you with appropriate treatment options to give you a perfect smile. 

Now if you notice a blue or gray tooth discoloration, you won’t have to live it forever. A simple dental consultation will help you to achieve the smile you wish for.