Visiting the dentist can be intimidating – especially if your dentist doesn’t explain your diagnosis or treatment clearly. At Ballantyne Endodontics, we’re here to make you feel as comfortable and prepared as possible. To do that, we want to define terms that may be unfamiliar to you. If you have a damaged tooth, you may hear your dentist refer to the “Ferrule Effect.”

What Is the Ferrule Effect?

According to Colgate, this phrase “refers to the need to have several millimeters of sound tooth structure left above the bone (alveolar bone) to decrease the risk of a tooth fracturing after certain procedures that require a crown, such as a root canal.”

Root canals are a specialized procedure used to save teeth with cracks, decay, or large restorations close to the dental pulp. While root canals are excellent for maintaining your tooth’s function, the procedure may leave you with minimal natural tooth structure.

The presence of strong tooth structure above the alveolar bone gives your gums something to firmly attach to and leaves space for the ferrule, or the crown, of your tooth. If there’s not enough tooth structure in place, you may need to have a surgical procedure called crown lengthening. During this treatment, an oral surgeon will remove soft tissue and bone to reveal enough sound tooth structure above the bone.

In order to create the ferrule effect, your dentist will place a post and core in the root canal system. The post and core provide stability for the crown. Your dentist will then use a high-speed tool to shape tooth material to fit perfectly onto your tooth.

Why should you care?

The ferrule effect can play a large role in reducing the risk of fracturing your tooth; however, even if there is a solid tooth foundation, we can’t promise that you won’t experience a fracture. Occasionally, surgery may not be effective in creating enough tooth structure for successful crown placement. When this happens, the tooth may need to be extracted. To prevent this from happening, it’s critical to brush and floss your teeth regularly!