Will cosmetic dentistry help to fix my front tooth that is discolored?

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I have a front tooth that is getting darker as time goes on. It has probably been five years or more that it has slowly been changing color. I was referred to an endodontist by my regular dentist. He said it doesn’t need a root canal since it passed the tests. He did mention that my response was somewhat delayed to the ice and electric test. It also sounds like there may be a small fracture that they found on the x-ray. Even when they found the crack in it, they still said it was still optional and totally up to me to do a root canal.

So, here’s my dilemma. Do I just get the root canal to get it over with? Or would some kind of cosmetic dentistry work for it since it doesn’t need one right now? How long would that delay the inevitable?

Some other information that the endodontist shared was that a root canal has the potential to weaken my tooth. Is that true? He also mentioned that I would need composite bonding adding to the ones surrounding the dark tooth so that it would look uniform when I smiled.

Do you think I should see a cosmetic dentist? Sorry, that is a lot of questions. But I really don’t have a clear recommendation on the best way to treat my tooth.

Ultimately, if I will end up needing a root canal down the road, I don’t know what kind of cosmetic dentistry options I have. And I definitely want the least invasive procedure and whatever is best for my overall dental health.


Sandra in California


If you needed a root canal right away, the endodonist most likely wouldn’t have given you the option. So, one way to look at it is – why would you do it if it wasn’t necessary? A root canal is required when your tooth is infected. It sounds like it’s not. Therefore, it is probably fine to hold off on it.

As for the fracture that was found in the x-ray, it sounds like it is more of a crack. If there was a fracture in the tooth, it would be dead and would fail the tests given at the endodontist.

Since you mention that your tooth has gotten darker over the course of several years, it is likely from an old injury or trauma. In cases like yours, a tooth can build up what is referred to as a secondary dentin. It may cause some discoloration and the living portion inside the tooth (pulp) would become smaller. This may be why your tooth was somewhat delayed to the sensitivity and temperature tests.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, it sounds like you should see a cosmetic dentist. A porcelain veneer or composite tooth bonding may work to cover up the discoloration. However, it can’t be stressed enough that you need to do your research and find an expert cosmetic dentist in your area. This is important because less than two percent of dentists actually have the skills required to get the coloration and manipulation of translucency correctly to blend in naturally with the surrounding teeth.

closeup of a couple smilingIt shouldn’t be necessary to bond several teeth. An excellent cosmetic dentist should be able to manipulate the materials to match, so only one tooth would require work. The reason the endodontist said otherwise is likely due to the fact that he is not experienced enough to get it right and it would require less skill to do multiple teeth. This is common among general dentists that think they can do cosmetic dentistry. So, be careful about finding the right cosmetic dentist for your needs. Ask to see before and afters photographs of similar work and check out their credentials. It takes extensive training beyond dental school to obtain the expertise to to beautiful cosmetic dentistry.

Down the road, if you required a root canal treatment, the bonding or porcelain veneer could be removed quite easily.

Hopefully this information is helpful to you. If you are ever in Lexington, KY, Hamburg Expressions is an expert cosmetic dentist that has the right training and expertise. But, since you are on the other side of the United States, it would be wise to meet with several cosmetic dentists in your area to find the best one for you.