Tooth trauma can lead to major damage to your tooth, causing anything from minor sensitivity to the death of the tooth. Often, when a tooth suffers a significant trauma, it turns dark in color. This dark color is a sign that the pulp has suffered an injury, similar to a bruise. Sometimes, this injury is severe enough that the tooth pulp dies and you need to have a root canal to remove the dead pulp.
But other times the tooth is fine and will return to a more normal color with time. There are a number of tests we can use to tell which is the case for your tooth.
Testing Your Tooth
There are a couple of common tests that are used to determine whether your tooth is alive or whether it is dead and in need of further treatment.
First, tapping on the tooth is used. This can help us figure out whether the tooth is alive and whether it might have problems with the ligaments that secure the tooth.
The cold test is basically what it sounds like. We apply cold to your tooth to see if you can feel it. If you can, then we know your tooth is still alive. If it doesn’t, we may try another test to determine the status of the tooth.
We may also use an electric pulp tester, which applies a current to the tooth to determine whether the tooth is alive.
A New Test for Tooth Pulp
An interesting new test is being experimented with that promises to be more accurate than the other tests we have been using. This is a test using ultrasound doppler to determine whether blood is flowing within the tooth, and, therefore, whether it’s alive or not.
Ultrasound doppler is the same test used to detect the heartbeat of a fetus during the first months of pregnancy.
Treatment for Your Discolored Tooth
If your traumatized tooth has been discolored but is still alive, it will likely return to its normal color in time, typically four to 10 weeks after the injury, though it could take as much as six months.
If your tooth doesn’t return to its natural color, we can use vital tooth bleaching to restore it.
If your tooth is dead, we will want to perform a root canal to clean out the dead pulp and fill the tooth to prevent infection, then put a dental crown on top. Dental crowns or porcelain veneers can also be used if tooth bleaching doesn’t whiten the tooth enough.