Pink Spotted Teeth: What it Means and How it Can be Treated by a Dentist

If you have recently noticed that one of your teeth has turned a light pink or red at the crown, your tooth may be suffering from a condition referred to by dentists as internal root resorption. This condition is also known as pink tooth of Mummery, and was named after anatomist; James Howard Mummery. The first known case of internal root resorption was recorded by Thomas Bell in 1830

Internal resorption generally occurs as a natural process called deciduous root resorption, whereby the roots of a child's primary teeth are resorbed (re-absorbed) in order to make way for the secondary teeth (adult teeth) 

However, the process does not always occur in this manner. In rare cases, following trauma to a tooth, such as that brought on by cavities, cracks, chips or anything that may cause pulpal inflammation (inflammation of the tooth nerve), root resorption occurs in secondary teeth.

Internal Root Resorption Is Difficult to Spot

As this condition can last up to two years to fully progress to a point at which the tooth may be lost, you may never realize there is anything wrong until it is almost too late to save the tooth. This is why it is imperative that you seek dental treatment immediately upon noticing any pinkness at the crown of a previously injured tooth. 

You may not notice any physical symptoms at all, apart from the discoloration of the crown, though if the nerve becomes badly infected, you may begin to experience pain and sensitivity.

If spotted early enough, the damage can be repaired and the tooth saved. 

Root Canal Therapy Can Save the Tooth

First of all, because the affected tooth is being steadily demineralized, you need to inform your dentist as soon as possible; otherwise, you may lose the tooth. Your dentist can then x-ray the affected tooth and perform a vitality test to see if the tooth can be saved or not. 

Once they decide your tooth can be saved, they can then use root canal therapy, which involves:

  • Pulp Extirpation: The removal of the infected pulp.
  • Root Canal Wall Shaping: Your dentist will use tiny files to shape the canals, providing room for the filling material to be deposited.
  • Cleaning: Your dentist may use a cleaning solution, such as sodium hypochlorite, to kill the harmful bacteria in the canals. 
  • Filling: The dentist will fill in the root canals usually with gutta percha as this material is self-sterilizing. 
  • Permanent Filling: Finally, your dentist will cover the tooth, and the cavity used to access it, with a permanent filling. 

Later, to strengthen the tooth, you can even have a crown fitted over it. However, even if your tooth cannot be saved, you can still opt to replace it with a number of alternatives, such as a bridge or a dental implant. To avoid cases like this, visit your dentist at least every 6 months to spot any minor issues that may later become more serious.