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, gross—which 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.