I have porcelain veneers and my dentist recently told me I needed a root canal treatment in one of the teeth involved because of a periapical abscess. I’ve heard that root canals can turn the teeth dark. I’m afraid that will ruin the smile makeover. I’m also worried it will damage the veneer. Do you have any suggestions?
I’m a little concerned you needed a root canal treatment to begin with. When teeth are properly prepared for a root canal treatment, there is very little tooth preparation done. The photo to the left shows the deep limiting diamond bur that is used to remove about a 1/2 millimeter of enamel. It adds the grooves and then a dentist will go back and remove the ridges with a traditional diamond.
Unfortunately, some dentists get aggressive and remove all the enamel and down into the dentin. Others actually do porcelain crowns, which requires massive tooth grinding, and just call them veneers. Both of these last two methods put you at greater risk of needing a root canal treatment. I’m wondering if this is what happened to you.
In your situation, however, it’s already done and you need to deal with what is happening now. You have to have the root canal. You don’t want to leave an infection in your bone. That can lead to serious complications. Fortunately, I have some advice to give your dentist to protect your porcelain veneers.
Protecting the Appearance of Porcelain Veneers after a Root Canal
You are correct that a root canal treatment can make a tooth look dark. Because your porcelain veneers are translucent, that will show through and make the color look off. This can be prevented. Make sure your dentist knows that most of the darkening of the tooth comes from the remnants of root canal filling materials left over in the crown of the tooth. Have him read this post so you can feel confident he knows the right technique for this situation. Here’s what he needs to do.
He needs to clean out any of those materials from the crown of the tooth. Then he’ll need to place a white fiberglass post down into the root and fill the rest of the space in the crown with a light-colored composite. While it won’t forestall the tooth turning dark forever, this method along with the fact that you have a porcelain veneer should keep the tooth white for many years.
Best of luck to you.
This blog is brought to you by Philadelphia Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Michael Weiss.