Why Is Your Tooth Changing Color After a Root Canal?

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Root canals are never as disagreeable as you expect. Think of it as sacrificing certain portions of the tooth to save the tooth as a whole. And it's not as though the sacrificed portions are even visible since it's the tooth's internal pulp (its nerve) that is removed. It might already be dead (pulp necrosis) or dying, and your dentist simply makes a small opening in the tooth to remove this pulp. The empty root canal is then irrigated and disinfected before the canal is filled using a dental polymer. This returns your tooth to its former glory. But what about when some of this glory is rather short-lived?

Sealing the Opening

The finishing touch for a root canal is to seal the opening that the dentist made to access the pulp chamber. With a molar or premolar, the tooth is generally sealed with a dental crown. This is because the bite pressure these teeth sustain requires the post-root canal structural reinforcement of a crown, as simply adding a dental filling will not give the tooth sufficient ongoing necessary strength. With other teeth, a dental filling is utilized to seal the opening. It's these teeth that might present some unusual signs in the coming weeks.

An Intrinsic Change

It's distressing when a tooth begins discolor following a root canal. This change is intrinsic (meaning it has originated from within the tooth), and no amount of whitening will be able to truly correct the issue. This discoloration typically occurs when there are remnants of dental pulp left inside the pulp chamber. While it generally won't compromise the health of your tooth, the decomposition of this pulp has led to discoloration. This is why the change is gradual and isn't immediately obvious after the root canal.

Dental Restorations

This discoloration is primarily an aesthetic issue, but it can be rather noticeable. Although it's an unfortunate side effect of a limited number of root canals, it's not as though you should have to live with the blemish. Your dentist will be able to correct the issue. Even though a dental filling was enough to seal the opening in your tooth, the tooth could in fact receive a dental crown. A dental veneer affixed to the outward-facing side of the tooth can also correct the issue. Crowns and veneers will effectively conceal the discoloration. 

Internal Bleaching

When more extensive restoration (such as a dental crown or veneer) isn't a suitable option for you, your dentist can actually reopen the tooth. This doesn't mean that you're about to receive another root canal, and your dentist can in fact apply a bleaching agent to the pulp chamber. The result of this internal bleaching is that the tooth will gradually recolor itself from the inside out. 

Discoloration after a root canal doesn't indicate that the procedure has failed, but it's still something that needs to be corrected for the sake of your smile. For more information, contact root canal treatment services.