cosmetic dentistryDo I need a crown after a root canal?

Root canals are sometimes uncomfortable and costly, so it can be disappointing to hear that you may also require a crown. While not necessary in every case, crowns can provide the protection and stability needed to extend the life of a tooth.

How a root canal affects a tooth

When the inside of a tooth becomes infected or dead, it must be treated with a root canal. During this procedure, the dentist drills down through the tooth and removes the enamel, dentin and pulp. The cavity created is then filled with a material (silver, gold, composite or porcelain) in an effort to stabilize the remaining portion of the original tooth.

When are crowns necessary?

By having a root canal performed, you may think you corrected the affected tooth but that is only part of the equation. Because the pulp is removed during this procedure, the tooth becomes non-living, which often causes it to weaken over time. Therefore you need a stabilizing component added to the shell of the tooth. A crown provides just that. Covering the tooth like a glove, it provides the necessary stability to keep your bite and smile looking great for many years. If this tooth is not crowned, the likelihood of fracture can be very high. Once a tooth is fractured it will not heal like other broken bones, and it will have to be pulled.

Crowns are especially important on molars that experience the stress of chewing and on teeth that have a large portion removed during the root canal. The larger the filling, the more likely the tooth is to crack without a crown in place.

You will also likely need a crown if you grind or clench your teeth or have broken a tooth in the past. In many cases, the placement of a crown after a root canal dramatically increases the survival rate of the tooth. Additionally, crowns preserve the look of original teeth.

When fillings may suffice

While fillings will be a part of any root canal, they may be sufficient to stabilize a tooth that is in the front of the mouth, such as an incisor or canine, without the addition of a crown. These teeth are used to tear, not chew, food, making them less likely to break. Pre-molars or those with a low-risk of fracture due to a smaller cavity from the root canal may also be able to make do with a filling-only restoration.

Remember, though, that although fillings may suffice in some cases, crowns may be preferable in order to improve the look of the restored teeth.

How long after a root canal should I get a crown?

If a crown is necessary, it should be placed as soon as discomfort from the root canal subsides. The longer you go without protecting your tooth with a crown, the greater the likelihood of breakage. If you put off getting a crown after a root canal and your tooth breaks, you may have lost your investment and need to proceed with an implant.

Between your root canal and crown appointment, treat the affected tooth delicately with light use. It is also wise to avoid biting down on hard foods until your tooth is protected by a crown. Once the crown is in place there is virtually no risk of fracture.

Because the nerve in your tooth will have been removed during the root canal, the placement of the crown should cause no discomfort. It is important to follow any post-procedure instructions and continue with your normal brushing and flossing routine. Your crown will be checked at each dentist appointment to ensure it is maintaining the correct fit and placement.

Talk with a dentist today

Do you have a cracked or painful tooth that may require a crown or root canal? Call us today at (775) 358-1555 for a consultation with at dentist at Caffaratti Dental Group. They can answer your questions and provide the best recommendation to extend the life of your teeth.