Many patients wonder why a crown is necessary after getting a root canal. Why can’t dentists just put a filling in? It’s so much cheaper…

What is a root canal procedure and why is it needed?

When a cavity in a tooth is left untreated, it enlarges and eventually reaches a nerve inside. The nerve gets infected resulting in the immense pain that prompts people to go to a dentist or root canal specialist aka endodontist.

During root canal procedure the infected nerve is removed, canals disinfected and a root canal filling called gutta percha is packed inside.

After a root canal treatment is completed, there is no more blood supply and innervation to the tooth making it brittle and prone to fracture. Additionally, removal of all decay often results in a very little tooth structure remaining.

What happens after root canal?

It is important to understand that additional treatments are necessary after the root canal to rebuild the structure and restore the function of a tooth.

A filling called build up is placed inside the tooth. Crown is often recommended to reinforce structural integrity.

What is a crown?

A crown is a cover on a tooth fabricated at the lab. Custom fit to a tooth, crown is cemented permanently and resembles natural dentition in shape and color. Circumferential coverage reduces stress on a weakened tooth, and protects it against trauma and chewing forces. Crowning your tooth after a root canal is important to maintain the tooth long term.

What are the risks when root canal tooth is not treated with crown?

Let’s review a case of MyDental patient who had a root canal treatment a few years ago, with a large filling; no crown was placed. Below is an image of the tooth, as it appears on x-ray (red circle).

Patient came as an emergency with a tooth fracture. The only option for a non-restorable tooth is extraction.

A crack right down the middle of the tooth can be clearly visualized in the photo above. A filling, in this case, was not an appropriate treatment after the root canal. The result is vertical fracture and subsequent tooth loss. Without the crown, the tooth is not properly supported and will, eventually, fail with an exception of few cases. If a crown were placed after the root canal treatment, there would have been a firm foundation that would have allowed the tooth to manage impact and occlusion from other teeth.

How could this have been prevented?

In dentistry, the cheapest option is not always the best option. The goal is a long-term solution to the problem at hand. Consult with your dentist if you had a root canal treatment.

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