Take Advantage Of Our New Patient Special!

1129 S. 2nd Ave., Suite A
Walla Walla, WA 99324

Take Advantage Of Our New Patient Special!

509.522.2522

1129 S. 2nd Ave., Suite A
Walla Walla, WA 99324

Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments — and it’s easy to see why. Having whiter teeth can make you look years younger, and the procedure itself is among the most conservative (and cost-effective) cosmetic treatments dentistry offers. Sometimes, however, achieving a pleasing, even shade of lightness can be challenging; this is particularly true when a tooth that needs to be lightened has been subjected to an injury (dental trauma) in the past.

Dental trauma encompasses any damage to the tooth that’s caused by an external agent, whether accidental or intended. It may be due to a fall, a sports injury — or even a past orthodontic procedure. According to some studies, around a quarter of Americans aged 6 to 50 years old have experienced some traumatic dental injury, with most occurring before age 19. Traumatized teeth may react to whitening procedures differently from undamaged teeth, which can make them difficult to treat. However, several effective treatments are available.

Diagnosing a Discolored Tooth

The first step in the process of lightening a traumatized tooth is a thorough exam to find out what’s causing the dark staining — and one of the first things we will determine is whether or not the tooth’s pulp is “vital,” or alive. This is readily revealed by radiographs (x-rays) or other tests. If the tooth is still vital, external bleaching can often yield satisfactory results — even if it’s just one tooth that needs to be whitened. In-office treatments or take-home trays are effective, but office procedures generally take much less time to produce good results.

In many cases, however, discoloration of a traumatized tooth is itself an indication that the nerves in the tooth’s pulp have died. In this case, before whitening treatment can start, a root canal procedure will be necessary to remove the dead or dying tissue and prevent infection. It can also happen that a tooth that appeared normal will begin to discolor many months (or years) after a root canal has been performed. In either situation, it may be possible to whiten a non-vital tooth with a procedure called internal bleaching.

Whitening From the Inside Out

Because a non-vital tooth’s stains are intrinsic (inside, rather than outside, the tooth), we need to put the bleaching agent itself inside the tooth. Internal bleaching is a routine procedure, here’s how it works:

Access to the pulp chamber (the small passageway in the tooth’s center) will be gained by making a small hole in the back of the tooth. Then, any debris from the chamber will be removed and rinsed away, and a special cement will be added to prevent the bleaching agent from leaking into the tooth’s roots.

Next, some bleaching agent (commonly sodium perborate) will be placed in the empty pulp chamber, and temporarily seal it in. At this point, you can get up and leave the office… which is why this procedure is sometimes called the “walking bleach” technique. However, you’ll return in a few days for another round of bleaching; it may take up to four visits to get the degree of lightening you want.

When the tooth reaches the desired color change, a more permanent restoration will be placed on the tooth to seal that little hole — usually a tooth-colored filling material of composite resin. Many times, this relatively conservative procedure will give your tooth all the lightening it needs. If it’s not enough, the tooth can be bleached externally as well, or you can even consider a veneer or crown. The goal is to recommend the most appropriate cosmetic dental procedure, and get you the best possible results.

5-Star-Rated Walla Walla Family Dentist & Cosmetic Dentist, Proudly Serving The Walla Walla Valley…

"My previous dentist retired, and Dr. Gustavsen was recommended to me by a reliable source. I was able to get into the office immediately for a checkup, repair of a broken filling, and even a cleaning. The entire staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and made me feel comfortable. I scheduled my next cleaning for six months from now."
- Gayle K.
"From the receptionist, to the dental assistants and the doctor, everyone in this office is very friendly and professional. They make you feel welcome and are always smiling. This is probably the best dental office I have ever been to. I highly recommend this place."
- Esmeralda R.
"It has been awhile since I have been to the dentist. I was nervous about going but they were extremely welcoming. They are super easy to deal with as I have a pretty busy schedule. If they cannot do something at their office they will refer you to someone who can (wisdom teeth removal). I would recommend this dental company to anyone. Whether they have really great teeth or horrible; the staff will get you back on track!"
- Jaimee R.
"First time visiting a dentist in the Walla Walla area. They were very professional and the office staff was awesome! They entertained my kids with movies and train tracks. Also made them feel special by giving them all kinds of prizes and even a toothbrush! Will definitely be back."
- Krystal K.
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Our Walla Walla
Dental Office

1129 S. 2nd Ave., Suite A
Walla Walla, WA 99324

513.737.6442

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Monday - Thursday: 8:00am - 5:00pm

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