I have a brown front tooth. Is it dead?

dead nerve in tooth

Dark brown front tooth?  Black tooth? It may be dead.

Brown front tooth or dead front tooth problems?  You are not alone and the solutions may be very simple.  If the brown tooth belongs to a child please skip about half way down.

What has happened?  Why do I have a brown front tooth?

A brown front tooth is nearly always the result of an injury.  This injury could have occurred any number of years ago and just taken time to develop or it can happen rather rapidly. Think of this as a bruise that can never heal.  The tooth gets the brown stain from the iron in your blood.  Although in adults the tooth is often dead, that is not always the case.  Your dentist can do a couple simple steps and take an x-ray to determine with decent accuracy which is the case in your situation.

dead brown front tooth

How do I fix my brown front tooth?

Since this is an injury and the stain is on the inside of the tooth the only way to bleach it out is to bleach from the inside.  Store bought bleach and bleaches placed on the outside of the tooth will not do anything to this type of stain.

  • For a tooth that is still alive you can
  1. Do nothing and simply live with the color.
  2. Place a porcelain veneer or a composite veneer
  3. Do a root canal and bleach from the inside.

I prefer to place a veneer on a live tooth.

  •  For a dead front tooth
  1. Since it is dead, the best option for a dead front tooth is to do the root canal and bleach from the inside
  2. Additionally, you could do the root canal and then place a veneer.  This is a good solution for a tooth that has other esthetic issues or is broken.

The 2 examples in this post are sports injuries, they require both root canals and bleaching from the inside.  The process of a root canal on these teeth is usually not difficult or painful.  The bleaching requires you to come in one day and have the bleach placed inside the tooth and then return 1-3 days later and have the bleach removed.  The results can be quite dramatic.

What is the cost to fix a brown front tooth?

The cost of fixing a brown front tooth depends on what you need to have done.  If all you need is the bleaching the cost is usually around $300-400.  however, if you need a root canal and filling (called a build up) that costs about $1000-1500 more.  A single porcelain veneer, from the kind of dentist you want doing a cosmetic procedure, is going to run $1200-1500; a composite version will be at least half that.

brown front tooth
We use internal bleach to change this brown front tooth back into a white front tooth.

My child has a brown front tooth, so what do I do now?

Again this is not an emergency and has likely been coming on for months if not years.  In children you can think of a brown front tooth as a bruised tooth that never healed.  Fortunately, most of these teeth will never have any problems.  However, some will die, get infected, and need extraction.

How will you know if the brown front tooth is actually a dead front tooth?

Your dentist may take an x-ray of the area and know there is a dead front tooth because there will be bone loss.  Additionally there are times when a white pimple forms in the gums above the tooth, which is a clear indication that tooth has an infection.