For the past four years, I’ve seen my left lateral incisor get progressively darker. I’ve been concerned that if the tooth is dying, I’ll need an extraction and dental implant. My endodontist tested the tooth with ice and electric current and said the tooth is still alive. An x-ray shows a faint horizontal fracture. The endodontist said I can get a root canal, but it would weaken the tooth. The other option is to get some cosmetic work done to hide the dark color. What are my options for cosmetic dentistry? Thanks. Justin from Las Vegas
Did the endodontist say your tooth is infected? If it isn’t infected, a root canal treatment is not necessary. Although Dr. LeSage would need to examine your tooth, it’s unlikely that it’s fractured. A fractured tooth would be dead. And root canal treatment would further weaken the tooth and make it susceptible to leaking and root canal failure. Based on what you’ve described, you’re not in danger of requiring extraction and a dental implant.
What’s Causing Your Tooth to Turn Dark?
If you’ve had trauma to your mouth in the past, it can cause a tooth to turn dark. A traumatized tooth builds a defense, or secondary dentin, that shrinks the tooth pulp, darkens the tooth, and makes it less sensitive to cold or other stimuli.
What Are Your Options for Cosmetic Dentistry?
When a tooth is turning dark, a true dental artist can use a porcelain veneer or direct composite to conceal the discoloration. This is artistic work that you shouldn’t entrust to a family or general dentist.
Color matching – Precise color-matching skills are required to match your surrounding teeth.
Conservative treatment – A cosmetic dentist is trained to make your tooth dark tooth look natural and match surrounding teeth. You won’t need bonding or veneers on multiple teeth to accomplish that.
A family or general dentist doesn’t have the training or experience to color match teeth with veneers or dental bonding. Some dentists recommend placing crowns on several front teeth. Avoid that option.
Look for a cosmetic dentist with credentials from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry or the American Academy of Esthetic dentistry. You’ll receive seamless results, and you won’t be able to tell that your tooth was dark.
Brian LeSage, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Beverly Hills, sponsors this post.