If you accidentally fall and bang a tooth today, the true extent of the damage may not become apparent until years later. This damage usually presents itself in the form of discolouration, the shade of which ranges from cream to light brown. You likely know someone with a discoloured tooth. That single discoloured tooth is likely the result of trauma that occurred months or years before.

It doesn't always take years for trauma to discolour a tooth. Tooth trauma is a mixed bag. For some people, the damage becomes evident within days or weeks. For others, it may take months or even years. Every case is unique.

Bleeding Leads to Rapid Discolouration

Even if you accidentally knock a tooth out while playing sports, as long as you replace it quickly, the tooth can be saved. However, if the tooth bleeds internally due to the damage, within a few days, the tooth will become discoloured. This is as a result of a build-up of blood within the nerve chamber. Discolouration of this type can continue for days or weeks.

The nerve of a tooth may also die as a result of trauma, leaving it to decay inside your tooth. Naturally, this causes the affected tooth to turn grey or even black. To return a tooth to its natural colour, a dentist can remove the dead nerve tissue (root canal) and fill the tooth with bonding material.

Root Canal Sclerosis Takes Years

In some cases, the damage may not come back to haunt you for many years. However, when it does, your smile will be noticeably affected. This is especially true if the tooth is in your smile zone, as every time you smile or speak, the cream or yellow-coloured tooth will stand out from the rest of your teeth. This kind of discolouration is caused by a process known as root canal sclerosis.

Sometimes, when the nerve of a tooth dies, the body heals this damage by calcifying the dead (necrotic) tissue. Essentially, the tooth fills itself with minerals and the root canal becomes calcified. This results in a cream or light brown discolouration. What makes this type of discolouration so difficult to treat is that the colour change has occurred on the inside of the tooth. This means that normal whitening treatments have no effect. Only porcelain or composite veneers can restore this tooth to its former shade of white.   

If a tooth you damaged years ago has become discoloured, explore your options with your cosmetic dentist. If cosmetic dentistry isn't to your liking, replacing the tooth with a dental implant is another option. The point is that no matter how discoloured a tooth, there is always a remedy.