You just finished a root canal. You are out of pain and you are maybe thinking about waiting a while to return to your dentist for that crown. Well that could turn out to be the worst decision. Take a look at the video below and we will discuss why.
You wanted to save your tooth. That is why you opted for the root canal. You spent a great deal of money, time, and possibly some pain to get the root canal completed. However, your tooth isn’t protected.
What Happens to a Tooth After a Root Canal?
A root canal is the removal of the nerve and blood vessels from the inside of your tooth because the tooth is infected. To access these nerves, a hole has to be made right through the center of the tooth deep down to the middle. After the procedure is finished, the hole needs to be filled in.
When the nerves and blood vessels are removed, the tooth becomes fragile and brittle. It is prone to a fracture. One study looked at thousands of teeth that had root canals done on them, but had to be pulled. One of the top reasons the tooth had to be pulled was because it didn’t have a crown on it.
How Does a Crown Help?
When you look at the video above, you can see how the tooth fractured on the inside. A root canal hollows out the inside of the tooth, leaving the outside like a shell. The forces on the remaining tooth structure can be large enough to fracture this shell. A crown wraps the tooth in 360 degrees and essentially ties the tooth together to prevent the fracturing.
From my perspective as a dentist, it is sad that this patient worked really hard and used his hard earned money to get the root canal, and get out of pain. Now that he was finally out of pain, a delay in getting the crown nullified all of this hard work. I was frustrated because I spent a lot of time doing the root canal and got a beautiful result. I was proud that the patient was out of pain and the decay on the tooth was removed. When it fractured it was all for nothing.
Do All Root Canal Treated Teeth Need Crowns?
The simple answer is no, but it should be left up to your dentist to determine if a crown is necessary. The typical rule of thumb is that all back teeth need crowns and the front teeth might need them. Factors that determine whether a front tooth needs a crown are: 1) amount of decay on the tooth prior to the root canal 2) number and size of fillings on the tooth 3) how big of a hole was needed to do a root canal 4) are there existing stress lines or cracks on the teeth among many other factors.
If you live in the Austin, TX area and would like a second opinion on whether your tooth needs a crown, please call our office. One phone call could possible save your tooth.