Can You Whiten a Dead Tooth?

picture of teeth, with discolored teeth - whitening a dead tooth

Can You Whiten a Dead Tooth?

For many people, a dead tooth can be difficult to come to terms with. Teeth can die from traumatic injuries or decay, and even if a root canal can save a dead tooth from extraction, it will still look dead and discolored. 

A dull, discolored tooth can be a difficult hurdle when it comes to loving your smile. If the tooth needs to be removed and replaced or professionally bleached, your dentist will help you whiten your dead tooth. 


How Do You Know If a Discolored Tooth Is Dead?

Oftentimes, a tooth looks discolored because it is dying. Teeth usually die for one of two reasons, either trauma (getting hit in the mouth with a baseball, for example) or tooth decay. 

While teeth are very hard on the outside, they are actually very soft on the inside. A tooth’s interior, or pulp, is filled with soft tissues, blood vessels, and nerve endings. When the pulp of the tooth is damaged, it can become discolored. 

Symptoms of a dead tooth include bad breath, a bad taste in the mouth, and tooth pain. It is important to consult your dentist if you are feeling any pain or noticing any swelling. Those symptoms could be an infection that is spreading. Catching an infection early keeps it from spreading beyond your mouth. Root canals, extractions, crowns, and implants are some of the options for treating a dead tooth.  


Can a Dead Tooth Be Whitened?

Whether or not a dead tooth can be whitened depends on where the discoloration begins. For healthy teeth, most discoloration comes from surface stains. But with a dead tooth, the discoloration comes from the lack of blood flow into the pulp of the tooth. 

When the discoloration is inside the tooth’s enamel, it will take a more involved process to get the results you want. Whitening treatments for dead teeth often involve the use of professional-strength bleaches or drilling a small hole into the back of the tooth to insert a whitening agent.


At-Home Whitening Might Not Give You Good Results

An internet search for whitening your teeth will bring you to studies promoting the uses of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and even certain oils at home. And that doesn’t even touch the countless whitening products in the toothpaste isles of your local store. 

Used according to directions, these products can make impressive changes to the color of your teeth in as little as three weeks. However, they usually only work on healthy teeth—you might not see the same results on a dead tooth. 

Many people complain that the color of a dead tooth gets worse after at-home whitening treatments. In actuality, the dead tooth stays the same color, while the other teeth all get lighter. 


Dead Tooth Whitening in Prescott 

While home remedies might not give you the color you want, a dentist can. Bringing a dentist in on the conversation about whitening a dead tooth will give you the advantage of getting a smile you are happy with, without the guesswork associated with at-home options. At Hicks Dental Group, our team has the knowledge and skills to give you the bright smile you want. Contact us today for a consultation on tooth whitening.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/28/22). Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash.