Dentist Questions Root Canal

Why is my tooth discolored after treatment?

I had a root canal done, but now my tooth is darker in color and just doesn't look right. Why did this happen?

13 Answers

When a root canal is done. The nerve tissue is removed and a filling placed inside the root. If the tissue was necrotic and some residual tissue was left up in the tooth, it will continue to decompose and as it does, it will darken the tooth. If this happens, the tooth will need to be bleached internally to get rid of as much of the discoloration as possible.
My analogy of a root canal tooth is a dead tree in a forest. Think about how brittle, and weak a dead tree is compared to an alive tree. Also there are times when a dentist sometimes puts a silver mercury filling on top of the root canal, and then a crown. This will always cause discoloration. Watch the movie “Root Cause” on YouTube.
Most of the time a tooth will discolor over time due to the sealants/cements used during the treatment. Typically a crown is placed over the treated tooth which will not only help to protect the tooth but can also hide the discoloration. In some instances, ie traumatic injury to the tooth, the blood supply to the tooth may hemorrhage inside of the pulp chamber and cause discoloration. Even if the tooth eventually doesn't die the tooth may be permanently discolored.
This is very common. It is something called hematocrin pigmentation. It is essentially a bruise in your tooth. Unfortunately this will not go away. You would need a crown or veneer to cover this up.
Teeth that have root canal treatment can discolor if there was a swollen nerve that cause blood to get into the inside of the tooth structure. There it oxidizes and causes the tooth to look brownish
Root canal therapy removes the nerve tissue as well as the blood supply to the tooth. Without fluids to keep the tooth moist internally, it dries out and darkens. This is the normal progression. The tooth should be restored with a crown (cap) or some other strong protective cover to prevent it from breaking off. The crown will cover the darkness of the tooth and help to preserve function as well as looking more normal.
When you have a root canal done, the tooth is considered to be "dead" and can cause discoloration. You can have an internal bleaching done if there isn't much tooth structure missing. Or, you can have a porcelain crown made that would make it look more natural.
I hope that helps!


Dr. Reiser
Dear patient,

After the removal of the nerve from your tooth, it will stop the blood supply. Basically, the tooth has no nutrients and not enough oxygen, so the color will become darker.
A tooth can discolor because of the processes going on inside of the tooth as it is forming the access. There isn't anything about the procedure of the root canal that typically causes the tooth to discolor. The discoloration is typically present before the root canal and is caused by the dying pulp tissue being left in the tooth for an extended period of time. Proper treatment on most root canal teeth is to place a full-coverage crown and that should deal with the discoloration issue.

Dr. Daniel A. Lieblong
A frequent cause of this is that, in order to do a root canal treatment, the root system has to be accessed through the top or inner aspect of the tooth. This process opens the internal tissue of the tooth to air, which can then "oxidize" and thereby darken it. In most cases, a tooth that has had root canal treatment will be crowned, and that covers over any discoloration and strengthens the remaining tooth structure.
Almost always a tooth turns darker after root canal treatment due to the inner blood supply being removed.
You are seeing the remnants of the pulpal tissue inside of the tooth. I'd compare this to a bruise you see under your skin when you suffer trauma. The pulpal tissue has a blood vessel. When this tissue is removed during Root Canal Treatment, some of the pigments from the blood can penetrate the tooth structure resulting in discoloration inside of your tooth. This can be treated with internal bleaching of the tooth.
Your tooth didn't discolor because it had root canal treatment, it discolored because when the pulp (nerve chamber) dies and requires root canal therapy, the blood vessels in the pulp die, too. When all this happens, the blood in those vessels leaks out like when you get a bruise on your skin from some trauma - this darkened blood seeps into the pores of the tooth and the color "bleeds" into the entire tooth. The good news is that you can frequently whiten the tooth and reduce the darkness, as long as it's done individually, instead of whitening all your teeth at once.