Ask The Dentist – March 2023

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Written and Medically Reviewed by

Medically Reviewed

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts. Dr. Daniel Cho strives to provide unbiased and honest feedback regarding dental topics. This article contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Why is My Tooth Dark?

There are a handful of reasons why teeth become discolored or dark. If all the teeth are dark, it’s most likely due to general use and time. Your teeth get darker the more you eat foods that stain; such as coffee, tea, and berries. They could also be dark due to stains, especially if you haven’t had a cleaning in awhile. However if they’re still dark after a professional cleaning, the teeth would need to be bleached to restore their original color.

If you have a single tooth that is darker than the others, this is most commonly caused due to the calcification of a nerve. Another cause could be that it has been root canaled without a crown. This would generally only happen to your front teeth. The most common cause of why a nerve will calcify is due to trauma – both acute and chronic.

Are 3D Impressions a New Technology?

While they are not a new technology, 3D impressions have made giant strides in the past 5 years. Earlier generations of the technology had the ability to take impressions using intraoral scans. However these were clunky and difficult to use, so most dentists did not adopt them. Recent improvement in software capabilities and technology have allowed for a much smoother, and more accurate workflow.

How Will 3D Technology Change Dentistry?

It is very difficult to predict how technology will continue to improve dentistry. However I personally believe that dentistry will make significant improvements over the next decade. It wouldn’t be a far-fetched idea to say that we may see improvements that are greater than the past decade in dentistry.

There is currently technology to fabricate crowns without the use of traditional impression materials (the goopy stuff), design a new smile, and even place implants digitally. Even 3D printers are becoming more and more used, particularly by dental labs, to make night guards, implant surgery guides, even fillings and crowns. Currently 3D printing restorations is cutting edge technology and I am personally excited to see where it can take us.

Should I Wear a Guard During Sports?

It really depends on which sport you’re participating in. A good general rule of thumb is yes for contact sports. Even though I’ve met people who haven’t had any problems even after a decade of martial arts such as jiu jitsu, I’ve also seen people get their teeth knocked out with less than a year of training. It is unpredictable to tell when these things will happen and a guard is going to be a good idea. Sports such as tennis or running don’t require a guard. However, I have met some athletes, such as power lifters, who would benefit from a guard as they clench their teeth during training or competition. 

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