Discolored teeth can occur from a number of causes including developmental problems, use of certain drugs, trauma, infection, or excessive wear of the teeth. Most discolored teeth are dead and require treatment. Any discolored tooth has the potential to be uncomfortable, and should be evaluated under anesthesia with either a cone beam CT scan or dental radiographs by a veterinarian well-versed in dental pathology.
Studies have shown that an overwhelming percentage of discolored teeth are dead. Most teeth have died as a result of trauma to the tooth. As a traumatized tooth dies, the tubules of the inner tooth soak up blood that stains the inside of the tooth, resulting in discoloration that gradually changes from pink to purple and eventually to a brownish/gray color. Failure to treat these teeth results in discomfort to the patient, damage to the root, and damage to the bone around the end of the root. If untreated, it takes years for the diseased tooth to fall out on its own.
Another cause of discolored teeth results from developmental problems with the enamel of the teeth, resulting in soft, thin, brownish enamel. These teeth are sensitive and susceptible to infection. Treatment options include bonded sealants and/or restorative treatment.