When a tooth no longer has access to blood and nutrients—due to trauma or disease—it dies. Among other issues, these teeth often become discolored, turning yellow, grey, and even black and serving as an unsightly focal point each time the person smiles. Luckily, it is possible to improve the appearance of a dead tooth and here are two ways to do it.
Even though the tooth is non-vital, it will still respond to certain tooth whitening remedies. Since the discoloration is usually caused by red blood cells trapped inside the tooth, treating the problem requires injecting the bleaching agent directly into the tooth rather than applying it on the enamel.
Before the dentist does that, though, he or she will typically perform a root canal to clean out any remaining pulp from the interior. In many cases, the dentist will be able to do the bleaching at the same time. However, if your tooth is infected at the time the dentist performs the root canal, you may have to wait a couple of weeks for your mouth to heal before he or she will continue the treatment.
It's important to note that only the discoloration inside the tooth will be removed. Any exterior staining will still remain, but this can be eliminated with a regular tooth whitening treatment once the interior bleaching has been completed.
Sometimes internal bleaching doesn't take fully or the discoloration returns after a few months. Other times, the dead tooth is just too discolored to adequately treat using available tooth whitening methods, particularly if there are other issue contributing to the discoloration such as medication side effects. In this instance, the dentist will typically recommend covering the tooth as a means of restoring your smile.
There are several teeth covering options available. Veneers—a thin layer of porcelain applied to the front of the tooth—are a popular option and can be placed fairly quickly. If the tooth is structurally weak, the dentist may recommend a crown instead. This is a false tooth designed to fit over your real tooth like a protective glove. It adds strength and stability to the tooth to prevent it from breaking.
Whichever option you decide to go with, you should have your teeth whitened first before getting the covering. Porcelain does not respond to bleaching treatments. So, if you get a false tooth matched to the current color of your teeth, it will always look darker than the rest of your teeth whenever you whiten them. To prevent this from happening, achieve the color you want first and then have the covering matched and placed.
For more tips on fixing a dead tooth, contact a cosmetic dentist for more information.