How Can A Kid Bruise A Tooth?

Posted on: 9 March 2023

A few bumps and bruises acquired during various games and adventures are all part of being a child. But sometimes those bruises can appear in curious places. If your child suffered an accident that involved blunt force trauma (a hard knock) to their jaw, you would have inspected their teeth for damage. The teeth may have looked unaffected, but a bruised tooth can take a little time to develop.

Bruised Pulp

The tooth's pulp (or nerve) is found in a special chamber at the center of the tooth. Sufficiently strong physical trauma to a tooth can bruise its pulp, causing the tooth to darken.

Reaching the Peak

Anytime a tooth changes color, it has to be inspected by a dentist. You might assume you know the reason for the change, but it's critical to rule out potentially more serious causes. However, when a child's tooth becomes dark several weeks after an injury, it can be that the tooth pulp is reaching the peak of its bruising. Is this bruising serious?

Disrupted Blood Flow

The initial trauma disrupted blood flow to the tooth pulp, and bruising then followed. The tooth may appear blue or purple, much like a bruise on your skin. The structure of a human tooth is partially translucent, so it's possible to observe changes to the tooth pulp from the exterior of the tooth. This is particularly true with children's teeth, where the tooth's surface enamel is naturally thinner than you would find in an adult tooth. It's possible to see internal bruising from the outside of the tooth.

Assessing Trauma

A pediatric dentist will assess the trauma to the tooth pulp, and whether it's likely to be self-correcting. In many cases, the tooth will make a full recovery of its own volition, with no further intervention needed. A bruised tooth returning to its original color requires patience, as the process can be drawn-out (your dentist can give you a more precise timeline). 

Dental Intervention

As the tooth and its surrounding tissues recover from the injury, its blood supply will normalize, allowing bruising to subside and restoring the tooth's orifical color. In some cases, trauma to the tooth pulp may be more extensive than first suspected, meaning the issue is more than cosmetic. A dentist may opt to perform a root canal, removing the tooth's traumatized dental pulp to prevent its further deterioration. A pulpotomy (removing the damaged parts of the pulp while leaving the tooth roots alone) is also a potential form of treatment, depending on the specifics of the case.

Always have a darkened tooth inspected by your family's pediatric dentist. The best-case scenario is that they'll tell you to wait for the tooth to restore itself, but intervention may be needed to save your child's tooth. 

For more info, visit a local pediatric dentist