Hello Dr. Hall,
Back on May 21st I had my front upper tooth knocked out. It was put back in, bonded and set back into place. I had a root canal done on it as well. I’m noting that the color is slightly off (more yellow) than the rest of my teeth. My dentist said that I would probably have to get a crown after my last visit, but looking online I see that a crown for a front tooth may not be a good idea. How can I preserve the whiteness of this tooth without needing a crown? Thank you for your time.
– Joseph from Staten Island, NY
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You’re right. A crown on a front tooth, while it strengthens it against chipping, actually weakens the tooth against lateral stresses. So if you have a heavy bite at all, it is at greater risk of breaking off.
After a root canal treatment, a tooth tends to discolor. But that discoloration can be greatly lessened by cleaning out the inside of the crown from any root canal filling materials such as gutta percha or cement. If it is starting to discolor already (four months after treatment), the dentist has left some of those materials inside the visible part of the tooth.
Here’s what I would do.
Go to one of our recommended cosmetic dentists in Manhattan, Queens, or New Jersey, and have them clean out the inside of the crown. Since the tooth has begun to discolor already, it would be a good idea to have them do internal bleaching. Then you could have them fit the tooth with a fiberglass post inside and seal the opening, and you should be good for several years before it starts to discolor.
Then, when it discolors, I would just have them do a single porcelain veneer to correct that. This would require a fair amount of expertise in appearance-related dentistry to match the color of the adjacent tooth, but I’m confident that any dentist we list would be able to get that to look great for you.
Oh, one other thing. Since this is a replanted front tooth, you want to have it x-rayed again to make sure you don’t have any external resorption. It’s possible that your body could be eating away at the root. That happens sometimes with these replanted teeth. Be sure to find that out before you invest much money into this tooth.
And just a comment about your dentist. It looks like he or she did a nice job of saving your tooth—did all the right things, and is probably an excellent dentist. But these demanding aesthetic problems are over the head of the vast majority of general dentists.
I hope this is helpful.
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