You might notice a difference in the color of your natural teeth and those that have been treated with root canal therapy. Teeth have a tendency to be duller and darker after root canal treatment; therefore, they don’t blend in well with the rest of your teeth. Although teeth whitening can brighten your smile, root canal teeth do not respond as well to conventional whitening treatments.
Teeth consist of the root, the dentin surrounding the root, and the white enamel covering the visible part of the tooth. Enamel is hard, naturally white, and translucent. The dentin is yellowish in color and porous, which allows parts of the nerves to penetrate it, darkening the dentin with age. The thinning of the enamel and darkening of the dentin is the reason teeth yellow with age.
When the roots of a tooth become infected, requiring root canal therapy, the roots can die and turn dark brown. The darkened tissue of the root can permeate the surrounding dentin before it is removed during treatment. This can cause permanent darkening of the tooth, as can medication used in the root during treatment, among other things. Although a tooth whitening treatment can be applied to a single root canal treated tooth, it typically achieves just moderate lightening, if any.
Teeth that have been darkened by root canal treatment may need to be bleached from the internal chamber with the walking bleach technique:
- The lips are coated with protectant and a rubber dam is situated around the tooth to be treated.
- A small opening is made into the internal chamber.
- A bleaching solution is placed inside the tooth.
- The access opening is temporarily filled.
- The bleach is left in the tooth for several days while you go about your normal activities, hence the name, walking bleach.
- When you return in about a week, the doctor determines whether the treatment needs to be repeated. If not, generally, the bleach is removed and a temporary filling placed. In about three weeks, a permanent filling is placed. The waiting period is to facilitate the bond of the permanent filling.
Alternatively, a beautiful, white porcelain dental crown can be placed to strengthen and protect the tooth while covering the discoloration. Dr. Sameet Koppikar, of Biltmore Dental Center in Phoenix can explain the available treatments and help you decide which option would be best for you. Call (602) 954-8200 and schedule an appointment today.