Sometimes patients ask – Do I need a crown after a root canal? They wonder if it’s enough to just see the endodontist. Like many questions patients ask, the answer is nuanced. In short, it depends on the condition of your tooth, the location in your mouth, and your preferences. We’re going to dig into all of these in this blog post, so stay tuned — because we believe in empowering our patients.
Please keep in mind this article isn’t a substitute for professional advice. As you read, you will notice we point out that so much varies by the individual patient, and their individual tooth. We hope it opens your eyes to some of the tooth restoration options that may be available to you after a root canal. At the end of the day, we recommend you see your dental care provider to help pick the right choice for you.
Most patients find that a root canal offers relief from the pain, tenderness, and sensitivity they have been experiencing that led them to see their dentist. In the hands of a skilled professional, a root canal combined with the most appropriate restoration methods can restore wellness and balance to your mouth. You’ll be smiling again in no time!
Before taking a deep dive into the topic of restoration methods, it may help to understand a few basic details about what happens during a root canal. Keep in mind that the goal of any endodontic treatment is to preserve and restore natural teeth as much as possible.
How a Root Canal Impacts the Tooth’s Structure
During a root canal, your dentist or endodontist opens the tooth with a small hole and thoroughly cleans it inside; after removing the damaged dental pulp, the dentist re-fills and then seals the tooth. In other words, a root canal removes infection and saves a tooth from further damage and decay.
People turn to root canals after the inside is damaged, inflamed, or infected. It is usually the best alternative to losing the tooth. A successful root canal removes the decayed and damaged material, including enamel, pulp, and dentin. The dentist then refills the cavity with a composite material, porcelain, gold, silver, or another dental-grade material.
However, sometimes decay or cracks (such as due to forces of mastication, or chewing) can cause teeth, including those that have had a root canal, to be weaker and be more vulnerable to damage. If you’re wondering, do I need a crown after my root canal, your dentist may recommend a crown or other type of restoration after the procedure to protect the tooth.
When Is a Crown Essential?
Often a dentist needs to fit a crown over the tooth to reduce the risk of fracture or cracks. Many patients are happy with their dental crowns because they enhance the appearance of their teeth. After all, who doesn’t love a beautiful set of pearly whites?
The location of a root canal makes a difference in terms of whether a crown makes sense for you. For instance, grinding your teeth puts extra stress on them. Since many people grind their back teeth, those teeth usually need a crown to protect them from being ground down.
This is especially important if you happen to grind your teeth when stressed. While a mouthguard can help reduce the risk of fracture, a crown adds strength and reinforcement.
The Journal of Conservative Dentistry reported some debate whether crowns are essential even for the back teeth. This study found that back teeth, like molars, with crowns are less likely to crack or fracture in the years following the root canal. So your dentist may be especially likely to recommend a crown if you’ve just had a molar root canaled.
Benefits of Placing a Crown After a Root Canal
Sometimes a crown is unnecessary, but even when it is, there are still numerous benefits:
- A crown reinforces a fragile and vulnerable tooth.
- A crown can improve the appearance of a small, unevenly shaped, or discolored tooth.
- Studies found those rear teeth last longer after a root canal.
- A crown helps diminish sensitivity in the case of partial root canals.
- A crown adds security by reinforcing your teeth against the stress of grinding, chewing, and clenching.
Whenever possible, see a dental professional who follows modern best practices and uses cutting-edge technology. Your endodontist or dentist should be able to discuss whether a crown or other treatment option would better suit your needs.
If you and your dental team agree that a crown is your best option, get advice on the timeframe for applying the crown. Placing the crown typically requires at least one more visit to a dental professional. Also, be sure to follow any specific instructions your dental provider gives you, just like you would with any other medical procedure.
When is a Crown Less Likely to Be Necessary?
Without a doubt, there are many benefits to getting a protective crown after a root canal. While crowns offer reinforcement and security, they are not always necessary, and they might not always be the best option for your tooth. When considering whether your tooth needs a crown, your dental team will consider the overall condition of the tooth and where it is located.
Sometimes the front teeth might not need the extra protection that a crown offers. For example, incisors and canine teeth that are still intact may not need a crown. Also, if the tooth is still in good condition after the root canal is complete, a crown may be unnecessary. Teeth that are lower risk may only need composite fillings or a strong, permanent seal. Always talk with your dental team for guidance and to learn about your restoration options.
In recent years, the field of dentistry has advanced, particularly when it comes to technology. That means there are more options for restoring your teeth after a root canal than there have ever been before. This is an exciting time for dentists and their patients!
Next Steps: Visit a Qualified Endodontist
Whether your tooth is protected by a crown or not, remember you still want to prevent future decay. Follow your dentist’s oral hygiene advice and brush and floss daily. Also, stay current with your screening and professional cleaning appointments so your dentist can monitor the health of your teeth.
If you need a root canal, please consider seeing an endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in saving and restoring natural teeth. Typically, an endodontist performs at least 25 root canals weekly compared to a general dentist who may perform just two root canals a week, according to the American Association of Endodontists.
The team at Ballantyne Endodontics proudly serves the Charlotte, North Carolina area. We love seeing our patients smile and strive to help the Charlotte community maintain their natural teeth throughout their lives.
If you need a root canal, feel free to call us to learn more or schedule a consultation. Also, consider asking your dentist for a referral. Contact Ballantyne Endodontics today.