What Is The Best Option For A Dead Front Tooth?

My dentist sent me to a specialist who performs root canals. This dentist told me that my tooth has calcified and he cannot perform a root canal. All of my other teeth are healthy and straight. Should I consider a veneer or crown for this front, top tooth? Will it be possible to match it to my other teeth?

Doctor Answers 24

Dead front tooth

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I would get another opinion.  Best option would be to have root canal on this 'dead' tooth and internally whiten to see if the color can be brought to match the others.  If so, then you can avoid putting a veneer or crown on this tooth which may be difficult to get to match the adjacent teeth.


New York Dentist

Calcified Tooth

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A good root canal specialist (endodontist) isn't going to do a root canal unless you need one. This may depend on whether or not you have symptoms and what the x-rays show. If a tooth is too calcified to treat with a normal root canal, then a surgical procedure called an apicoectomy would usually be the next step.

While it can be more difficult to match a single front tooth to it's neighbors color wise, it's certainly possible to do and do well. Once endodontic treatment is complete, you should have a veneer or crown placed to protect the tooth long term.

If for some reason the tooth can't be saved, then the next best option would be an implant.

Paul D. Kantor, DDS
Cleveland Dentist

Dead or Calcified?

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Specialists by definition have higher training in the area they work in. Even so, some have greater comfort in some kinds of treatments. In this case, where you are being told that the treatment is not going to be possible, I am going to have to suggest that you look for a second opinion. 

It could just be an area that is on the outskirts of the comfort zone of the specialist that you went to see. 

If the tooth is dead, but not infected you can still crown it, it is just a case of monitoring it regularly and doing the root canal with someone who is comfortable with this type of calcified canal when the time comes. 

As tio crown vs veneer, modern crowns should be done in an adhesive method which means they can be largely the same size and format as a veneer. Let your dentist guide you about which one is most appropriate based on the amount of tooth tissue that remains. 

Good luck and kind regards


Thomas Dey, BDS, MSc

Thomas Dey, BDS, MSc
Stevenage Dentist

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Treatment for a Dead Tooth

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If the tooth is calcified doing a root canal treatment might be challenging. The specialist would be the best judge of how best to proceed following a thorough examination including x rays.

A dead tooth discolours over a period of time. A veneer or crown would match in colour to the other teeth closely.

Prashant Nanda, MDS
India Dentist

Porcelain Veneers: What's the best option?

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Based on what you are saying, a crown seem s like the best possible option, however, a full comprehensive exam would have to be performed to fully substantiate that.

Best of luck. James Asaf, DDS

James Asaf, DDS
Beverly Hills Dentist

Dead front tooth

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Often times it is required to place a crown on a root canal treated tooth because once the tooth dies, it becomes brittle and it loses its color. Even though this tooth has not had a root canal done to it, it may be dead. I actually think you should consider seeing another root canal specialist to evaluate the possiblility of treating it even though it may be calcified. Many root canal specialists are able to penetrate through the calcified portion depending on how severe it is. 
A veneer is an option too, which is more conservative, but it depends on how much stress you're putting on that tooth to determine if that's a good option for you.
I think the best thing, if you do end up getting a root canal is to try to bleach the tooth internally after the root canal and see if you can get it back to its original color. 

Anjali Rajpal, DMD
Beverly Hills Dentist

What Is The Best Option For A Dead Front Tooth?

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So we have had patients that come in with a dead front tooth or a tooth that has had root canal or has died and has calcified and is practically the same type thing where the tooth is no longer vital, doesn’t have the elasticity that a normal tooth would have if it were still alive. In that case if the tooth is dead the better option would be to do a full coverage porcelain crown, so that it helps protect the tooth against fractures and protect the tooth against a bite that might cause it to break and chip.

Amanda Canto, DDS
Houston Dentist

Dead (Dark) Tooth Options

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When a tooth is considered "dead" this means the nerve has died and the supply to that tooth has been cut off. Over time this tooth will most likely turn dark. I highly recommend covering your front tooth with a porcelain restoration to avoid having to see a dark front tooth. Your options to restore this tooth would be a Porcelain veneer or a Porcelain crown. If the existing tooth has a good deal of tooth decay that needs to be removed, the best option may be a crown. However, if the tooth itself is in good condition, the best option may be something more conservative like a porcelain veneer. You need to have the tooth evaluated by a general dentist to determine the best treatment option for this tooth.

Parnaz Aurasteh, DDS
Beverly Hills Dentist

How to treat a dead front tooth

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Two things you didn't make clear, has the tooth changed color (gotten darker) than the adjacent teeth and does any infection at the root tip show up on the dental x-ray?

If the tooth has discolored, but no infection is apparent, then you might just consider first trying to bleach the tooth.  Although bleaching will lighten almost any tooth, the dentist cannot guarantee that bleaching will effectively match the adjacent teeth perfectly.

If that is the case, then a porcelain veneer commonly the best solution, today oftentimes replacing the need for full crowns on front teeth.  Your dentist may have you go to the dental ceramist at the dental lab to have the color matched more accurately.

In cases where the patient has very high expectations, many cosmetic dentists will recommend veneering both front teeth.  This insures that both teeth will look more optimum, same length, shape, color, etc. (i.e. both will be mirror images of each other). This is especially true when the other tooth also doesn't look as good (i.e. chips, discoloration, rotations or misalignment, etc.).

Norman Huefner, DDS
Laguna Niguel Dentist

Dead front tooth

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To treat a tooth that is dead but has no canal for root canal treatment means that only  the front surface can be treated.

if you are happy with the colour of the other teeth, then a simple opaque veneer bonded to the enamel will be fine.

If the shape is fine then do not get it trimmed too much.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.