About five years ago, I fell while running a marathon and hit my face. My left front tooth is turning dark, and my dentist referred me to an endodontist for a root canal. The tooth does not hurt. I’m wondering why my dentist did the referral instead of bleaching my teeth. Will my tooth get lighter after a root canal? Thank you. Milton from Ohio
Thank you for contacting our office.
When a Tooth Turns Gray
If a tooth turns gray, the nerve inside is likely dead. Unless the tooth is dead or infected, you do not need root canal treatment.
Will Root Canal Treatment Lighten a Tooth?
Root canal treatment will not lighten a tooth. Unless a dentist cleans out root canal filling material and cement from the portion of a tooth above the gumline, the tooth will darken. Some endodontists use the GentleWave system for root canals. The system uses sodium hypochlorite to dissolve soft tissue inside a tooth. Although sodium hypochlorite can whiten a tooth somewhat, it does not stay inside the tooth long enough to bleach it.
Your dentist can internally bleach your tooth after verifying that root canal treatment was successful. Sealing bleaching gel inside the tooth can correct the color. If bleaching is successful, a cosmetic dentist can insert a flexible fiberglass post in the tooth and fill it with dental composite. Otherwise, a dentist can restore the shade with a porcelain veneer, which requires removing less tooth structure than a dental crown.
We recommend scheduling an appointment with an advanced cosmetic dentist to examine your gray tooth and discuss your options for whitening it.
Dr. Jerome Cha, a Tulsa, OK accredited cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.