Why do loose baby teeth turn dark?

By Shauna Cuff
The darkening of a loose baby tooth is not always cause for alarm.

As permanent teeth make their way in, the roots of the baby teeth, also known as milk teeth, dissolve. This allows them to become loose, fall out and make room for the adult teeth. Parents.com identifies the two bottom front teeth, followed by the top two centre teeth to be the first to fall out. As blood flow to the tooth is interrupted, the tooth may begin to darken.

Causes of Loose Teeth

The development of adult teeth is not the only manner in which a child's teeth become loose. Many children bump or hit their teeth while playing. Injuries to the mouth can also cause the tooth to loosen and darken. The tooth may not fall out right away, and an injured or jarred tooth will not always turn dark. If the tooth does not change colour within a month of being impacted, it most likely will not turn dark.

Blood Supply

If the blood supply to the tooth is cut off from an impact, the tooth will turn dark temporarily. Teeth completely displaced may have damage to the supply of blood, resulting in permanent darkening. Dr. Dean Brandon states that, "most dark baby teeth do lighten back."

Lightening Dark Teeth

Dr. Brandon compares a darkened tooth to a bruise, "Unlike a bruise on the skin where there is a good blood supply, the tooth takes a longer amount of time to recover." It can take six months for the colour to return to the tooth. If the colour of the lightened tooth seems flat and less transparent than the surrounding teeth, it is likely due to the tooth's canal closing.

Teeth That Stay Dark

If there is no sign of injury or infection, a dark tooth does not usually require treatment. X-rays can be done to observe any internal problems with the tooth. A tooth can stay slightly loose for quite some time and may not be sightly, but may be able to be filled our crowned to improve appearance.


If the pulp of a tooth dies, the body cannot heal the tooth. Abscesses can develop, and the treatment usually involves removing the tooth. If there is still enough root present on the baby tooth, a baby root canal can be performed. The dead pulp will be removed and the nerve chamber can be filled. The material used in baby root canals differs from that used in adults, as it needs to be able to dissolve to allow the adult teeth to come in. A baby root canal is only effective about 50 per cent of the time.

About the Author

Shauna Cuff began writing music reviews for vteens.org in 2001. She wrote technical guides for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and her poetry appeared in Harrisburg Area Community College's "Voices." Cuff currently writes articles that focus on health and parenting. She studied art and English at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design.