I've had a root canal done on my right central incisor years ago and the discoloration is very visible on the whole tooth. Should I consider getting a porcelain veneer or a crown? I'm concerned because I know that once I get a crown, there is no turning back.
Porcelain Veneer or Crown to Fix Discoloration from Root Canal?
Doctor Answers (6)
Get a veneer if there is minimal damage to the tooth. (the decay is not extending to the back).
Try to have the tooth bleached/whitened before you go the veneer.
If there is significant damage (extensive decay) get an all ceramic (layered e-max or zirconia) crown.
90% crowns,10% veneers for root canal teeth
Each case is different for this treatment. Most of the time we do crowns after root canals because it adds strength to the tooth,but if the tooth is larger and the root canal was very small then a veneer will look better cosmetically. Veneers dont weaken the tooth as one other Dr said in one of the answers. Every time you add a layer of structure to a tooth or anything else, the strength increases. Basic laws of physics.
Steps for fixing discolored tooth that had prior Root Canal
The decision of whether to use a crown or veneer to help your discolored tooth is made depending on how large the hole/filling is from the root canal procedure. I use specialists who make such a tiny entrance hole for the root canal, that I can use a veneer and not have to worry about the strength of the tooth. If the hole/filling is large, a crown may be a better option for the long run.
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Crown is the best treatment
A crown is the best treatment in your case. A root canaled tooth is weak and hollow. A full coverage crown will support it and will prevent cracking. A veneer will weaken it even more. You mentioned that there is no going back after a crown. It is the same for a veneer, which shaves your tooth down, just not all the way around.
In general, a tooth with a root canal should be crowned
Root canal therapy hollows out the tooth, resulting in a weakened state. To withstand chewing forces, a crown is placed. If a front tooth has a VERY conservative access, one MIGHT be able get away with NOT crowning a tooth, but it is a gamble.
A leading cause to failed root canal therapy (RCT) is coronal leakage, meaning bacteria leaks into the canal from the oral environment. Crowns help avoid this coronal leakage.
In your situation, since there is an access hole, I would lean towards a full crown. If the access was very minimal, I would say that a veneer might be possible, but the restoring dentist should be able to determine if that is a good idea.
Try bleaching for root canal treated teeth first
Yes, coverage with porcelain will work but as you stated it involves irreversible change to your tooth. There is a bleaching procedure for root canal treated teeth. This is less invasive. If it doesn't work then go to the porcelain crown or veneer.