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Root Canal with Porcelain Veneers

I have eight porcelain veneers on my upper teeth. Recently I learned I had a periapical abscess and my dentist says I need a root canal treatment. First, how did I end up needing a root canal to begin with? Second, how do I keep this from ruining the look of my porcelain veneers?

Kaleigh

Dear Kaleigh,

I’m sorry this happened. I can understand your concern about needing a root canal treatment. Most expert cosmetic dentists go their entire careers without a porcelain veneer they’ve placed needing a root canal treatment.

teeth being prepared for porcelain veneers

The picture above is the right way to prepare a tooth for porcelain veneers. Using a depth limiting diamond bur, your dentist should place grooves in the teeth only 1/2 millimeter in depth. Then, they’ll go back and prepare the remainder of the surface to even out with the grooves with a traditional diamond bur. When done this way, there is little stress to the tooth causing the need for additional treatment.

Unfortunately, not all dentists understand that.

illustration of a tooth prepared for a dental crown

Some dentists will be too aggressive in their preparation of the teeth and get all the way down to the dentin. Others do a crown preparation, as seen above. They are actually placing porcelain crowns and just call them porcelain veneers.

This type of aggressive preparation is much more likely to stress the tooth and cause problems. This is likely what happened to you.

Protecting a Porcelain Veneers During a Root Canal

There is no way around getting the root canal. If you leave the periapical abscess there, the infection will cause serious problems and could even put your life at risk. Dental infections still lead to death when untreated.

The good news is, there are steps your dentist can take to preserve the color integrity of your veneer. The majority of darkening which takes place after root canals is because of left behind dentin and root canal filling material. Your dentist needs to thoroughly clean out the crown of your tooth.

From there, he’ll need to place a fiberglass post down into the root. The remainder should be filled with a light colored composite resin.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.