Tooth whitening removes extrinsic stains from the surface of teeth. That means whitening can remove stains from the foods and drinks you partake of, such as coffee and wine. The bleaching agent penetrates the surface pores of teeth and dissolves staining molecules, leaving your teeth looking whiter. But root canal teeth don't respond to traditional whitening in the same way.
If you have tried to whiten your teeth and have found that a tooth that has previously had a root canal won't whiten, then this article will help you understand why.
Root canal teeth stains are intrinsic
Unlike the stains that affect your living teeth, the stains that affect root canal teeth are often intrinsic. This means that no amount of traditional whitening, whether in office or at home, will work on a root canal tooth. The stains are inside the tooth, not outside.
When a tooth dies, root canal therapy removes the dead nerves and blood vessels from inside the tooth. But later, root canal teeth often turn grey or darker in colour. This is due to the discolouration caused by ruptured blood vessels. And because the staining is inside the tooth, you won't be able to whiten that tooth no matter how much you try. Fortunately, you can use another whitening method.
Internal whitening can whiten root canal teeth
When the stain is inside a tooth, such as a root canal tooth, a dentist can use a method known as internal whitening. Sometimes, endodontists will carry out this method immediately after a root canal to prevent future intrinsic staining. To whiten the inside of a tooth, a dentist places the bleaching agent inside the stained tooth, and then seals the tooth up again.
Although this method is effective in most cases, you might struggle to match the shade of your whitened root canal tooth with your other teeth. One way around this is to whiten your other teeth in the traditional manner after you have whitened your root canal tooth. You and your dentist can then work together to gradually whiten your teeth until you find a shade that matches.
You will need to redo both internal and external whitening
Just as you will need to have your other teeth whitened again in the future, you'll also need to have your root canal tooth whitened again too. This means that it's a good idea to find a dentist that can do both internal and external whitening.
If you have a root canal tooth that doesn't respond to traditional whitening methods, then seek out a dentist that can do internal whitening. Internal whitening can whiten a root canal tooth that has turned grey. Speak with a professional for more information about tooth whitening.