If you are referred to an endodontist for a root canal, you may be surprised to learn that, as critical as the procedure is to saving your natural tooth, you will also need a second procedure to ensure its long-term success. Most of the time, your endodontist will recommend placing a crown on the tooth with the root canal. To understand why, it is helpful to review what root canal treatments do and the after-care needed to support them.
- A root canal replaces your tooth’s nerve pulp with a biocompatible material. This substitution of gutta-percha or another biocompatible substance is what makes it possible to save your tooth, but it also makes the tooth more brittle. This means it can be more vulnerable to chipping or cracking.
- The infection or breakage that led to the need for a root canal may have permanently weakened the tooth. By the time a root canal is recommended, your tooth may have already sustained structural damage. A crown can cover your entire tooth above the root line and provide protection your natural tooth has lost.
- Previous dental work may have weakened your tooth. Dental fillings can fail and leave teeth prone to decay. Teeth on either side of a bridge may have been altered to hold the restoration in place. Other types of dental work can also reduce the strength of your teeth.
- Crowns can prevent coronal leakage. If the filling that seals in the biocompatible tooth root material develops a leak, infection can get in and ruin the root canal. Crowns are the best restoration to prevent this type of potential damage.
“Root canals regularly save natural teeth, and a root canal topped with a crown can allow that tooth to last as long as the rest of your teeth,” says Dr. Susan L. Wood, an endodontist with the Phoenix Endodontic Group. “Our practice is happy to explain the importance of each step of the root canal process.”