Why Is Your Tooth Turning Pink?

Some discoloration of your teeth over the years is to be expected, but the shade of this discoloration is generally rather predictable. Teeth that have lost their luster will tend to become yellow or gray, or sometimes even brown when there's significant deterioration. So why is one of your teeth starting to turn pink?

An Internal Issue

The issue is not caused by external staining, so it's not as though you've been consuming too much pink-colored food. In any event, if this was caused by an external source, it would affect multiple teeth, instead of just one. This pink discoloration is actually caused by what has happened inside the tooth. 

The Pink Tooth of Mummery

The technical term for this condition is the pink tooth of mummery. It involves the destruction of part of the tooth's internal structure, namely its dental pulp (the nerve inside the tooth). The pulp itself has become red and inflamed, and this red inflammation has become visible through the tooth, leading to a pink hue.

Whitening Treatments

Because this type of discoloration is not caused by any external agents, teeth whitening treatments will have little effect, as these can only have an impact on the surface of your teeth. Correcting your pink tooth of Mummery will involve a trip to the dentist, and this should happen sooner, rather than later.

Root Canals

Your dentist will generally have to perform a root canal. The inflamed dental pulp will be removed, and your dentist will then flush out the empty canal before disinfecting it. The removal of the compromised pulp will remove the source of the discoloration, so your tooth should slowly return to its normal color. Having said that, a particularly advanced pink tooth of Mummery might not so easily correct its appearance.

Veneers and Crowns

If your tooth discoloration will not subside, even after a root canal, your dentist may need to intervene further. This means that the tooth must be concealed, and this involves either a dental veneer or a dental crown. When the overall structure of the tooth was of questionable strength (particularly after the necessary opening of the tooth to perform the root canal), your dentist might have opted to complete the process with a dental crown anyway.

So when a tooth turns pink, it's a sign that a problem is unfolding deep within its structure. Don't reach for the whitening toothpaste; instead, you need to make an appointment with your dentist.