Bleaching a non-vital tooth, a tooth that has had a root canal, works differently from bleaching the surface of the teeth. Over time a tooth that has had a root canal can look discolored, which is happening from inside the tooth. In most cases, using a standard bleaching procedure to bleach your teeth, such as Crest Whitening Strips, or even dentist administered laser bleaching, can’t fully change the color of these non-vital teeth. Instead, we’ll whiten from the inside.
First, we consider what has caused the darkening. It may be debris inside the pulp chamber of the tooth, or it could be the filling that was used in that space when the root canal was completed. To start, the filling is removed from the tooth so that canal can be accessed again. Sometimes, simply replacing that filling material with a new, clean, white filling can be enough to change the look of the tooth. But often times we take things a step further by adding a bleaching agent inside the canal of the tooth. Don’t worry, since the tooth has already had a root canal, there will be absolutely no pain or discomfort. Sometimes the internal bleaching takes just about 30 minutes for the agent to do it’s job and at that same appointment a permanent white filling is placed in the tooth access. Other times, better results can be achieved by placing the bleaching agent inside the tooth and putting a temporary seal on the access hole. Then you go about your normal activities for a week or two and come back for final treatment. The temporary seal is removed and the canal is cleaned, and finally the white filling is placed in the access.
We’ve had great success with bleaching root canal treated teeth. You reap the benefits of keeping your natural tooth, but achieve a cosmetic improvement in your smile.