Teeth that have been traumatized from an accident that happened a long time ago, or show other signs of non-vitality can cause a tooth to begin to darken and lose its luster. Rather, it begins to take on a brown, grey, or dark shade that is noticeable when you smile, because it’s right next to your healthy, vital teeth.
Sometimes it’s not necessary to treat these teeth with restorations, because they are structurally stable and sound for normal use. The problem comes into play when we have to address their appearance, especially when the tooth is in the front of the mouth (typically, the front teeth are the ones that are most susceptible to traumatic accidents like falls, sports injuries, etc.) While whitening methods are effective on other teeth, traditional treatments don’t always work on a tooth that isn’t actually alive. Instead, internal whitening may be needed.
Internal teeth whitening bleaches the color of the tooth from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. Because some of this discoloration is due to dead nerve tissue, that tissue may need to be treated and the open canal sealed off as well. Internal whitening can take a few attempts before the full results are achieved, but it can be an effective way to improve the way your otherwise healthy tooth looks when you smile or laugh around other people.
It’s very common for teeth to wait years, or even decades, before they show signs of trauma. A baseball accident in your childhood may not produce any evidence until years down the road when that tooth finally gives out. If you begin noticing discoloration in any individual teeth, schedule a dental appointment to make sure everything is ok!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV, Gilreath Dental Associates
When the nerves of teeth die due to trauma or infection, the tooth can gradually become darker over time. This dark color comes from within the tooth and isn’t something that can easily be reversed. Typical teeth whitening treatments do not reach any further than the superficial stains on teeth or very shallow internal tooth stains. Deep stain within a tooth requires an internal whitening procedure to help make the tooth shade match those of the teeth around it.
Teeth that have been traumatized often show symptoms years down the road, when the tooth suddenly begins darkening for no apparent reason. Teeth can also be discolored due to medication that was taken during your mother’s pregnancy or that you took as a small child. Your dentist can treat some of these stains by opening up the nerve chamber of your tooth and whitening it from the inside out.
Internal whitening isn’t always a simple straightforward answer for severe tooth discoloration, but it can be a less expensive treatment to help improve the aesthetics of a tooth, which has lost its vitality. When other treatments aren’t needed, internal whitening can be a more simple therapy for improving the appearance of a single tooth that seems out of place. If internal whitening is not an adequate choice for the patient’s needs, the tooth may be better treated aesthetically with a porcelain veneer or crown.
Only your dentist can let you know if internal tooth whitening is an appropriate option. Each individual is different, as are his or her teeth. Internal whitening is a much more affordable option compared to routine cosmetic treatments that cover the surface of the tooth.
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