Is a Crown Necessary After a Root Canal?
Did you know that a study published in the The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry found that the 5 year survival rate for a root canal treated tooth without a crown is only 36%? In comparison, a study in the Journal of Endodontics found more than 90% survival rate for teeth restored with crowns after a root canal procedure.
The primary benefit of placing the dental crown is to protect the brittle root canal treated tooth and greatly improve the long term survival rate.
During an endodontic (root canal) procedure, the small, threadlike tissue in the tooth’s center, known as the diseased or damaged pulp, is removed. The remaining space is then cleaned, shaped, and filled.
Even though root canals save teeth from extraction, they cannot restore teeth to their former strength.
This is because a root canal treated tooth is essentially a dead tooth with their source of nourishment (blood vessels) removed. The tooth will lose most of its strength and have significantly increased chance of fracturing. A study proves the tooth loses up to 66% of its strength in tooth stiffness.
Remember, every time when you apply pressure to your teeth, such as biting down on food, the sheer force of your bite can easily crack a root canal treated tooth.
We often stress to our patients that they only get one chance at protecting their natural tooth. Once it fractures, more of the time the only option is extraction.
Should the tooth not be crowned, there is a risk that the tooth may fracture. In the event this happens, placing a crown is often too late, and the only remaining option might be extraction and a single tooth implant, denture, or bridge. You have wasted all the time, energy, and costs in having the tooth root canal treated.
Apart from protecting the root canal treated tooth from force, there are also numerous other reasons why your dentist recommends a crown be placed on top. These include:
- To prevent infections: An infected or injured tooth is automatically at higher risk for re-contamination. A dental crown provides an extra layer of protection against infection so you can avoid an extraction.
- To restore a natural-looking appearance: Without the pulp, a tooth might appear gray or deeply stained. The whiter shade can only be restored with a dental crown.