A tooth that has been saved through root canal treatment can last a lifetime, but the procedure itself affects the structure of the tooth and weakens it significantly. Dental crowns help to reinforce the restored tooth and protect it from fracture when biting and chewing, significantly increasing the success rate of your treatment.
Although root canal therapy is generally a frightening dental procedure, a recent poll by the American Association of Endodontists, the majority of those who are terrified of the procedure attribute their anxiety to the experiences of others rather than their own.
There is a lot of false information regarding root canals that prevents potential patients from taking advantage of the opportunity to save their tooth with this procedure, and may lead them to choose riskier procedures like tooth extraction. Learn the truth about root canal therapy before you start exploring for alternatives, and then decide for yourself whether you should give it a shot. Here are some frequently asked questions to help address your concerns:
Is a crown necessary after a root canal?
Tooth infections that spread too deep inside your tooth and reach the pulp (contains nerves and blood vessels) can cause tooth pain and sensitivity to hot and cold items, making you unable to function normally. Depending on the severity of your case, your dentist may recommend root canal therapy in order to save the tooth and prevent further deterioration that may eventually lead to tooth extraction. But even after the procedure, your tooth is not completely safe. That is why your dentist will likely advice you to get a dental crown for superior, long-lasting restoration.
Should you get a filling or crown after root canal?
There are a number of effective endodontic treatments for replacing lost tooth tissue, including dental fillings, inlays, and onlays. However, these procedures can only be used to fill gaps in strong and healthy teeth.
Usually, teeth that require a root canal have already sustained some form of catastrophic event extending to the pulp. During the treatment, any diseased tissue, both within and around the cavity is removed. Once the dentist reaches the root of the tooth, the entire infected dental pulp is removed and the roots treated with antibiotics.
Root canal treatment results in tissue loss, and the tooth may be considerably reduced in structure, leaving it exposed to normal biting and chewing forces. But more importantly, the tissues that have the greatest effect on the health of the tooth have been extracted, so the tooth is no longer capable of generating new, healthy tissues to support it.
As a result, dental crowns are necessary to fully restore and protect the tooth, providing a strengthening effect that can protect against fracture.
What is the success rate of root canal through crown?
The popularity of root canal therapy is largely attributed to its high success rate of 90-95%, with a very low risk of the infection returning and causing the treatment to fail. But even if this happens, your endodontist may still recommend endodontic re-treatment, whereby the tooth is reopened, cleaned, sanitized, and the chambers and canals reshaped in order to maintain the tooth.
There are a few reasons that may prevent the root canal from healing properly and ultimately causing failure, such as:
- New decay
- Narrow or calcified canals that had not been treated
- Delayed filling or crown placement (final restoration)
- Bacterial penetration due to poor final restoration
Reinfection may also occur many months or years after complete root canal treatment due to new damage or injury to the tooth.
Why should you wait two weeks after root canal for crown placement?
After getting a root canal, your dentist or endodontist may ask you to wait for up to two weeks before the final restoration for the treated tooth to heal, and also to rule out any possible complications prior to placing a filling and/or crown.
How long can a tooth with a crown last after root canal?
From a recent study, teeth that have been saved through root canal therapy tend to last about 11 years. However, the restored tooth can last twice as long (20 years) if it receives the root canal and then proceeds to get a filling and crown.
Conversely, if no additional restorative work is done, such that you get a root canal without a crown, then you can only expect it to last about 6-and-a-half years. The teeth that last 11 years on average have a combination of root canal followed by either a filling or a crown to complete the restoration.
This is according to a study conducted by Dr. Thankam Thyvalikakath, the director of Dental Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Dentistry, in Indianapolis
What are the risks of root canal without crown?
Without a root canal and crown, the tooth would have to be extracted, and possibly replaced with an implant or bridge. A crown simultaneously fills the lost tissue while restoring strength to a tooth that would otherwise be too week. Besides preserving the tooth and providing structural support, here are some other reasons to get a dental crown after root canal therapy:
- To provide a proper seal – If contaminates in the mouth manage to seep past the filling material through a phenomenon referred to as “coronal leakage”, the root canal treatment can fail. A dental crown is placed above the filling material, preventing such an event from occurring, and thereby, reducing further restoration processes on that tooth.
- To ensure restoration longevity – While the requirements for each restoration vary from case to case, placing a crown as the final restoration provides more assurance of lasting service.
- For a realistic appearance – Most dental crowns are made from porcelain, which mimics the shape and color of natural teeth. The material is also stain resistant, making it easier to care for.
In some cases, like when a considerable amount of the tooth is missing, your endodontist may recommend that you use a post that is cemented in the canal space of the mishap tooth for extra stability. Still, a dental crown is recommended to make the restoration permanent and reduce the risk of cusp fracture.