Tooth discoloration can be an issue after root canal treatment. Without an active blood supply, the tooth's dentin (which forms the majority of a tooth's overall structure) can take on a gray-colored hue. The enamel, which covers this dentin, is somewhat translucent, so it begins to similarly change color, with unappealing results. While a root canal can save a tooth, does it mean the saved tooth has to be gray?
Because the discoloration originated within the tooth (known as intrinsic discoloration), whitening it from the outside (extrinsic treatment) will not work. Don't attempt to bleach a tooth that changed color after a root canal, as it will not work, and the caustic elements of the process can cause further damage to a tooth that has already been compromised.
Covering the Issue
Cosmetic dentistry can provide a highly effective solution, and this is by concealing the discoloration—covering it with a dental veneer or dental crown. This is the only way to approach the solution from the outside, and it might be your dentist's recommendation. However, it's not suitable in all scenarios, since a small amount of dental enamel must be shaved off to accommodate the veneer or crown. Again, this can be problematic when the tooth has already been compromised.
An Intrinsic Solution
Sometimes intrinsic discoloration requires an intrinsic solution. Your dentist can apply a safe dental bleaching agent into the tooth's pulp chamber, which no longer houses the tooth's nerve since it was removed during the root canal. How does it work?
Inside the Tooth
Your dentist needs to access the pulp chamber and does this by drilling a small hole in your tooth (think of it as a strategic cavity). A filling is applied inside the tooth, sealing the packing substance that was applied to fill your pulp chamber, and preventing the bleaching agent from leaking further into your tooth.
Once the pulp chamber has been prepared, your dentist will apply a peroxide-releasing dental putty, which is then sealed inside the tooth with a temporary filling. You will then be sent home but will need to visit your dentist in the subsequent days so that the dental putty can be changed until the preferred shade has been reached. This might take several visits, but once it has happened, the results are permanent.
Although internal bleaching might seem like an intensive effort to reverse discoloration after a root canal, it's infinitely preferable to having a gray tooth. So whether it's a veneer, a crown, or internal bleaching, there will be a way to correct a gray tooth after a root canal.
Contact a local dentist to learn more about tooth bleaching and root canal treatment.