illustration of a dental implant in three stages

Do I Need Root Canal or an Extraction and Implant?

Three years ago, my wife and I got in an accident that released the airbags in our van. I took a hard blow to my face, and since that time, my front left tooth has been sensitive on and off. My dentist said she would watch the tooth, but it began to turn dark last fall.

I saw my dentist last week for the first time since Covid, and she referred me to an endodontist for a root canal. The endodontist will complete the root canal next week. Will the root canal improve the tooth color, or will I need to see a cosmetic dentist? If I need a root canal and a cosmetic dentist, who will probably recommend a porcelain veneer? Should I get an extraction and dental implant anyway? – Thank you. Gordon from Tampa, FL

Gordon,

Thank you for your question.

Will Root Canal Treatment Lighten a Dark Tooth?

Root canal treatment will not lighten a dark tooth. It often makes a tooth darker. Why would root canal treatment darken a tooth? When a dentist leaves root canal filling material and cement in the portion of the tooth above the gumline, the tooth darkens.

Preventing a Tooth from Darkening After Root Canal Treatment

Your dentist can minimize the darkening effects of root canal treatment with these steps:

  • Remove root canal filling and cement from the tooth crown
  • Bleach the tooth internally
  • Seal the bleaching solution inside the tooth
  • Insert a flexible fiberglass post in the tooth and fill the tooth with composite, or correct the color with a porcelain veneer

When you have most of the structure left on a front tooth, preparing it for a crown can weaken it and increase the risk of it breaking. A cosmetic dentist can correct the color with a porcelain veneer after root canal treatment if your front tooth is intact.

illustration of a dental implant in three stages
Saving your tooth with root canal treatment is better than a dental implant

Unless your tooth is severely damaged and the endodontist (a root canal specialist) cannot save it, it is best to preserve it and avoid extraction and a dental implant. We recommend scheduling a second opinion with an advanced cosmetic dentist to examine your tooth and discuss your treatment options.

The Salem, Massachusetts dentists at Burba Dental Partners sponsor this post. Please read why our patients say we offer some of the best dental care in the Boston area.