JEANNE MAJORS: Dr. Causey. When we were on vacation last month, our five year-old son Justin bumped his front teeth coming out of a swimming pool. It was a very minor accident, no tears shed, barely slowed him down. Last week, we noticed that one of his front teeth had turned gray. My husband lost a tooth when he was a teenager in a similar fashion. After being hit by a baseball, one of his teeth turned gray and had to be removed. Is our son’s tooth dead? Do we need to see you about this?
DR. CAUSEY: Jeanne. It is not uncommon for active children to bruise a primary (baby) tooth from time to time. When they do, the tooth may turn dark gray or purple…like a bruise on your skin. Most primary teeth return to their natural color after a few months, though some do not. An initial radiograph (x-ray) should be taken to evaluate possible trauma to the underlying permanent (adult) tooth. As long as the tooth is not a permanent (adult) tooth, the area can be observed for tissue changes and treated based on symptoms. From a quick look at Justin’s records, it looks like he’s due to lose those front teeth pretty soon, anyway. (As for Rick’s front tooth…I know it well. Remind him to floss thoroughly around that area, will you?)