Root canals are not known for changing the color of your tooth, but this side effect may become noticeable for a limited number of patients who must undergo the procedure. It's not the most pleasant of outcomes, but it's only a cosmetic problem and is easy to overcome. What's involved in restoring the look of your tooth?

Structural Changes

Your tooth has undergone significant structural changes as a result of your root canal treatment. The procedure is designed to save the tooth by removing its infected pulp. The pulp is a collection of living tissues with its own vascular supply that connect to the tooth's nerve. It's found in the pulp chamber at the tooth's center. Infected, untreated pulp will become necrotic (which is pulp death), and its removal (which is your root canal treatment) stabilizes the tooth, allowing it to stay intact and preventing the spread of infection.

Pulp Chamber

To remove the entirety of your infected pulp, your dentist would have excavated down to the base of the pulp chamber, along with the pulpal horns and radicular canals, which branch off from the central pulp chamber. The empty pulp chamber is irrigated and receives an antibacterial treatment. The chamber is then filled with a type of dental latex, allowing the tooth to maintain its strength. Afterward, the tooth is sealed with a filling, and it might also need a crown. So where has its discoloration come from? 

Inside the Tooth

It's possible for small deposits of necrotic pulp tissue to be left behind inside the tooth. This can stain the tooth from the inside out. Dentists typically first apply a temporary filling to the tooth so it can be reopened if additional root canal work is needed. If applicable, this can be carried out and should reverse your discoloration. The tooth may already have received its final filling though. If the leftover necrotic pulp isn't creating any clinical concerns, then the issue is solely cosmetic and may not warrant further root canal treatment.

Color Restoration

You can, however, receive efficient cosmetic treatment. There may in fact be no further necrotic tissues inside the tooth, and the color change may be due to structural changes to your tooth's internal dentin. Teeth whitening can be performed but may not provide the necessary results, as the stain is emanating from inside the tooth. You're more likely to need tooth bonding (a coat of tooth-colored resin on the tooth) or a dental crown. A crown may have been planned anyway, as it can be a necessary final stage of the process when the root canal was for a tooth that experiences a great deal of bite pressure, like one of your molars. 

A discolored tooth after root canal treatment certainly doesn't mean that your treatment has failed but should be checked out by the dentist who performed your procedure. Contact your dentist for more information about root canals