When I was a teenager I fell and hit one of my front teeth. After a while, it started changing color and growing darker. My dentist put a crown on top of it. Especially as a teen and being very self-conscious of my smile, that crown was heaven sent. It looked so much better than the dark tooth and no one even knew I had anything on it. Now that I am in my early twenties, I can see a dark line by my gums at the top of that crown. Is this a sign that I’m going to lose that crown and find a gross, dark tooth underneath? I’m so scared it will happen in public, too. What should I do?
Kelly, Richmond, VA
There are times when a tooth dies. Typically this happens because of a traumatic incident to the tooth, such as your fall, or through tooth decay. The pulp, in the middle of the tooth, under layers of enamel and dentin, is where all the blood vessels and nerve endings are. The blood flow in the pulp can become so affected by either dental trauma or decay that it dies.
A tooth that has died can be treated by extraction (removing the tooth), or by root canal and a crown. Especially for a front tooth, doing a root canal is the common treatment.
It sounds like what your dentist put on your front tooth as a teen was a porcelain-fused-to-metal (or PFM) crown. This crown covers the whole tooth and make it function as any other tooth. Because your gums recede over time, sometimes the metal from your crown starts to show at your gumline. That is the dark line you see, not your tooth or the crown coming off.
In order to get rid of the line, there are now ways to bond porcelain directly to the front teeth instead of having to use the metal. All-ceramic crowns can be just as strong and effective. A good cosmetic dentist can help give you a fully functional tooth while making it look as natural as all your other teeth and you could be rid of the dark line forever.
This post is sponsored by Dr. William Cummiskey at Generations Dental Care in Enfield, Connecticut.