Monday, January 26, 2009

The Legend of Gray Tooth McGee

On Friday evening, I noticed that my 2-year-old's front tooth was gray. I could not believe what I was seeing. I mean, a tooth is not white on Thursday and then gray on Friday. That is impossible. I grabbed my daughter in a head lock, dragged her into the downstairs bathroom where the light is good, forced her mouth open, and examined every tooth. No cavities. No cracks. No enamel spots. Just one pearly gray.

In a panic, I screamed for my husband. He sauntered into the bathroom, shot a glance toward the general area of my daughter's face, said he didn't see anything, then shuffled back out like the world was not crumbling down around my ears. My visiting mother came in, took a look, and agreed with me that the tooth looked gray. Thank you, Grandma! She then asked in a hushed voice, "Kim, doesn't a gray tooth usually mean a dead tooth?"

Just after the twins were born, we moved to our house in the woods. We left behind paved cul-de-sacs, cable TV, and fluoridated water. I've been a nervous wreck since. I usually let the twins brush their teeth first, and then I take over. But, as anyone who has ever tried to stick a toothbrush into a toddler's mouth will tell you, brushing the teeth of a large octopus is easier than trying to clean the mouth of a 2-year-old little girl. Could the gray tooth be all my fault?

I put the girls to bed and went straight to the computer. Thank you, Google! I typed in "two year old gray tooth" and got 5 million pages of results. Shut UP, Google. I refined my search parameters and began researching the overnight appearance of a gray tooth in a 2-year-old. Here is what I learned:

1. I am not a bad mother. Gray-toothed children are a common sight in these 50 United States of America.

2. I am a bad mother. A gray tooth is almost always the result of trauma to the tooth.

3. Wait, I am not a bad mother. Kids are kids, and "trauma" can mean a simple bump to the mouth sustained during normal play.

4. I am an ignorant mother. A gray tooth will usually show up a few weeks after the initial injury. My older girls were playing with their baby sister on the wood floor about 3 weeks ago. They pulled the play mat out from underneath her and she pitched forward onto her face. At the time, I was concerned about icing her bloody fat lip and calming her down. I never thought for a second about her teeth—they weren't loose or anything—but in retrospect, that cryfest had to have been when the trauma occurred.

5. I am a preemptively-praying mother. I will know after 6 months whether this gray tooth is here to stay. Sometimes a gray tooth will return to its normal white color. My husband provided a glimmer of hope when he revealed to me that he once had a gray tooth that turned white again. I've been married to the man since the beginning of time and this is the first I've heard of his gray tooth? Let's hope my daughter has her daddy's tooth-healing DNA.

6. I am an obsessively-compulsive tooth-checking mother. Even if the gray color turns out to be permanent, the tooth itself should be normal in every other way until it loosens and falls out at the proper time. Unless it develops an abscess. I'm to look for a small pimple on the gum—ew, grosswhich is a sign of infection. Fortunately, the likelihood of an abscess developing is rare. Unless you're a hick who lives out in the wilderness and drinks water from the well.

If you prefer your information about gray teeth to come from someone with a teensy more pediatric dental knowledge than some weird woman in Alaska, read Dr. Brandon's blog.

Dinner last night: a big helping of guilt and misery

UPDATE: I am exceedingly happy to report that about 6 weeks after the injury, my daughter's tooth has indeed returned to its normal white color! Have faith, moms. Your child's gray tooth may not be permanent.


Lana said...

Oh no!
Here's hoping the tooth turns back to white. If not, then hopefully no other problems will arise. Poor thing. And poor 2 year old too!

Helene said...

I would have the same reaction if one of my kids' teeth turned gray overnight like that! My first thought was maybe she hit her mouth hard on something and didn't tell you but then again a 2-yr old would normally cry when hurt that badly. It does seem wierd.

Whatever caused it, I hope it's nothing too serious!

twinmama said...

Oh my gosh! I would have had the same exact reaction and twindada would have had the same exact reaction as your husband.

I hope that it isn't too serious! I don't think that I ever knew that teeth can turn gray after suffering trauma. Good thing to know since we just refinished our hardwood floors...

We don't live in the woods, but..oh my gosh, Jelly Bean just fell. I immediately checked her teeth....anyway, we live on a country road and have a well, too.

glitzen said...

Eeeek! Something new to worry about. I don't blame you for freaking...I'd be flippin out too. Glad to know there may be a logical and reasonable explanation for such, and that white-ness may return soon.

Jen said...

I know exactly hoe you feel. the exact same thing happened to my 20 month old little girl last weekend a week after a fall. how is your little girl a month on? did the tooth get any darker or lighter? am clinging to the hope it will return to white. Hope all works out well for you.

Kim said...

It looks like it has lightened, although you can still see that it is offcolor—barely perceptible, though (and I don't think anyone outside of the family has noticed).

I am concerned when I look at the back of the tooth (I have to hold her almost upside down to do it, but I can get a good look that way), because I can see a dark round outline inside the tooth where I think the original trauma caused blood to pool . . . which means a dead tooth is very likely : (

Jen said...

Sounds like there is some blood supply though if it has lightened. Am checking my little girl's tooth every hour to see if it has changed! Am hoping it will lighten. It's all I can notice when she smiles,' even though its probably not that noticeable. Glad I stumbled over your blog. Have been enjoying reading about your trials and tribulations. Hope the tooth continues to improve!

suzanne said...

my 13yr old son had a knock to his front tooth when he was about 3yrs old and it turned stayed that way for 2yrs until it finally fell out of its own accord. the adult tooth that came through was absolutly fine and is as white as the rest.but im now having the same problem with my 4yr old who bumped both his front teeth 2weeks ago.after being pushed head first down a slide by his friend.

Jen said...

Just to let you all know 5 weeks on that my little girl's tooth has whitened. It almost looks as white as the others, thank God. You would have to look very closely to notice difference. Am hopeful that it will return to original whiteness soon! It did however get considerably darker for a few weeks before it lightened. Was giving up hope of an improvement. Little people have wonderful healing qualities.

Brock-a-Baby said...

Thank you for this post, I too just came across my 2 year old son's gray tooth. He also hurt his mouth 3 weeks ago, and kept pointing to his two front teeth, but the only trauma I saw was a fat bloody lip. I gave him a popsicle and he seemed fine. As I searched google frantically, I was pleased to read your post. At least now I have hope that it will go back to normal, and that it isn't something very serious. Thanks again.

hoLLy said...

thank you for this post. i just noticed my 2 year old has a gray tooth yesterday(and i'm JUST now remembering that she had fallen on her face 2 weeks ago, but i thought nothing of it, just iced her lip like everyone else it seems) and i've been trying to figure out what is going to happen and what to do! i found you on google-hope you don't mind:) so glad to hear your child's tooth turned back to white and hoping my daughters does too!!

W6HFP said...

Our 2 1/2 year old daughter fell on a jungle gym a few weeks ago and hit her 2 front teeth. They've now turned light gray and the back of the teeth are darker gray. We took her to a pediatrician dentist who x-rayed her and noticed some nerve damage. She prescribed a 7-day course of antiobiotics to fight any potential infection. We're scheduled for a follow-up visit after one month.

My advice is to take your child to your regular dentist immediately if you suspect the graying is due to trauma. Your dentist will probably do x-rays and then make a referral to a specialist for further evaluation/treatment. Our daughter had graying about a year ago that our regular dentist diagnosed as coming from the iron in her vitamin supplements. We changed vitamins and had her teeth cleaned and they were back to white again, until this latest episode...

Bruce said...

Kim, I'm really glad that everything is going well with your baby's teeth. It's really scary to see a gray tooth on a child.

My nephew had a gray tooth last year after playing with some kids in the neighborhood. He was hit by a ball straight on the face. The dentist, Hilton Head based, gave him some medication to solve his tooth problem. Fortunately, the damage was not a major one and the tooth was back to its pearly white glory after some days.

Hoping for the best for your family.