I am prone to getting severe sinus infections, so when my face started swelling and I had some pain, I assumed that was what was happening. But, the pain didn’t subside after a couple weeks. So, I went into the dentist and unfortunately I have an abscess that has developed, which is a bummer because I have eight porcelain veneers that were recently done. So, the dentist is recommending I have a root canal done by an endodontist.
Now, I’m concerned that the porcelain veneers are going to change appearance. I love they way the look when I smile and I’m concerned they will get discolored and that I may end up losing it all together. Do you have any recommendations on how the veneer could be saved?
-Jen in Washington
If you have an abscess that is a sign of an infection and you absolutely need to get the root canal done, as soon as possible. If the infection is left untreated, you can end up with it sitting deep into your bone. Now, the question that comes to mind to me is why you need a root canal treatment after getting porcelain veneers.
This is because only a very tiny portion of the tooth should be removed in preparation of porcelain veneers. It is approximately a half a millimeter or about the same thickness as a fingernail. So, it is concerning that a tooth with a porcelain veneer now requires a root canal treatment. Many cosmetic dentist perform hundreds of porcelain veneer placements and they never have a patient that ends up needing a root canal treatment after placement. It is possible that a more aggressive tool was used, which removed more of the natural tooth structure than was necessary. That may be why some of the dentin was compromised and contributed to the nerve dying inside the tooth, which can cause the tooth to die.
Or it is possible that the tooth was actually prepared for a crown. In a crown preparation, a lot of the tooth structure is removed and then a crown sits over top to protect the tooth. The confusing thing is that sometimes dentists refer to porcelain crowns as porcelain veneers. Since so much of the tooth is removed for a crown preparation, there is a lot higher percentage chance of a tooth requiring a root canal. So, it is unknown without having seen you in person exactly what is going on with your individual case. Hopefully, this is not what has taken place and you actually do have porcelain veneers and not crowns.
All of that doesn’t matter regarding whether or not to get the root canal. If an infected tooth is left alone it can be a potentially life threatening situation because the infection can spread quickly. So, first off, get the root canal. In regard to your question about the possibility for discoloration, after it is done, a tooth with a root canal does turn dark. And since a porcelain veneer has some translucency to it, then it’s possible for the darkness to be visible.
So, here’s what needs to be done to prevent the root canal from ruining your porcelain veneer. The root canal filling material is typically the reason that the discoloration takes place. Many general, family dentists aren’t aware of that. So, you should ask your dentist to meticulously clean out any of the cement or extra filling materials from the tooth that is visible above the gums. Then, if a white fiberglass post is used into the root and a light-colored composite material is used to fill the space in, then this will prevent the darkening that you are concerned about. The material should hold it’s color for about five to ten years on a natural tooth. So, it’s safe to assume that if the tooth is covered by a porcelain veneer, it may hold the color even longer than that.
As long as the porcelain veneer was placed correctly (and that is indeed what you have) then you shouldn’t have to worry about losing the porcelain veneer.
Thank you for your question. Hopefully, this information is helpful.
This post is sponsored by Barrington cosmetic dentist James T. Gavrilos, DDS.