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Do I Need to Place a Crown On a Root Canal Treated Tooth: How to Decide

How to Decide?

Answer the following questions:

  1. Is the root canal located on a front tooth?
  2. Is there only a small cavity or filling on the tooth?
  3. Was the root canal performed very conservatively and left most of the tooth intact?
  4. You are NOT a heavy grinder?
  5. You don’t have too many crowns on your teeth already?
  6. You are under 60?

If  you answered “yes” to all of the above questions, then you may be able to pass up on the crown, at your own risk. Not only does the tooth have to qualify for not needing the crown, but you also need to make sure you are not a heavy grinder, don’t have too many crowns, or are not too old where teeth are weaker and fragile and break much easier.

If  you answered “no” to the any questions then unfortunately you will require the crown. A crown may be expensive, but losing the tooth and needing a dental implant is way more expensive and much more difficult to do.

Final Thoughts

Root canal treatments are quite costly and time consuming on their own, but without getting a crown you risk losing the tooth. Once the root canal has been performed the majority of the tooth structure above the gumlines is removed. As a result the tooth will become very weak and undermined. Without a crown on the tooth is likely to fracture or break, and should this happen you could be in trouble Sometimes the crown will fix the problem but most of the times the tooth will not be salvageable any longer and must be removed. Thus not getting the crown done on time could result in losing the tooth and the need for a dental implant, which is much more work and expenses than the crown would’ve been otherwise.

If the root canal is costing you too much, then you might have to wait to receive the crown a little later once you have the cash for it. Waiting for a few weeks is typically okay but after a few months the tooth begins to chip and crack and you must get the crown now or risk losing the tooth. Don’t postpone it for too long or you will end up losing the tooth after all and you paid for a root canal in vain!

helpful hint – If you need to wait for the crown consider talking to ask your dentist about at least placing the post or the permanent filling in the tooth. This makes the tooth much sturdier and reduces the chances of it fracturing as you wait for your crown. Also ask your dentist to drop the tooth out of bite. Not chewing on the tooth reduces the force exerted on it and decreases the likelihood of it breaking. Doing these two things should buy you some time to allow you to come up with the necessary funds required for the crown.

NEXT >> Do I Need to Place a Crown On a Root Canal Treated Tooth: Pros of Placing a Crown

Do I Need to Place a Crown On a Root Canal Treated Tooth: Pros of NOT Placing a Crown

Do I Need to Place a Crown On a Root Canal Treated Tooth: Pros of NOT Placing a Crown

1. In rare occasions a root canal won’t require a crown. This only applies when three things occur.

  • It’s a front tooth
  • The cavity or fracture is very small
  • Once the root canal is performed you still have the majority of your tooth struture intact

This only works on front tooth because they have only one nerve and the dentist or endodontist can make a very small access hole to do the root canal. This will also leave plenty of tooth structure intact. You may pass up on placing a crown on the tooth in these cases, at your own risk of course. Again, this only applies if very little tooth structure has been removed, so if there is a large cavity or a large existing filling in place then you will still require the crown.

helpful hint – The back teeth almost always require a crown after the root canal. Back teeth usually have multiple nerves and the dentist will have to create a large access hole to perform the root canal. As a result you will require a root canal. Additionally, since you chew on the back teeth, these will take the blunt of your chewing pressure and you run the risk of cracking them without a crown in place.

2. Doubling your expenses and number of appointments. Crowns are expensive and typically cost about the same or more than the root canal itself. And often times they also require a post in order to help hold the filling in place which further adds to the costs. And it takes several additional visits to perform a crown as well.

3. Your crown may have to be replaced in the future. A well done root canal will generally last you a lifetime. A crown on the other hand may require replacement over time should something go wrong with it. Crowns are made of porcelain or similar material and once they break it automatically results in a do over since crowns can not be repaired inside the mouth. Or your crown may fit well now but as you lose gum tissue around the tooth over the years, you may be forced to replace the crown as it is now trapping food, looking unattractive or no longer providing a proper seal around the tooth.

NEXT >> How to Decide

Do I Need to Place a Crown On a Root Canal Treated Tooth: Pros of Placing a Crown

Placing a Post in a Root Canal Treated Tooth: How to Decide

How to Decide?

Answer the following questions:

  1. Is your tooth still savable?
  2. Has the root canal destroyed a substantial amount of tooth structure?

If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you probably need a post to bring your tooth to its original state.

If you  answered “no” to most of the above questions then you may not require a post. IF your dentist or endodontist create only a small opening access to perform the root canal treatment and preserves the majority of your original tooth structure then you will not require a post.

  • This usually applies only to the front teeth which have only one nerve and are thus easier to access the tooth nerve without having to remove a whole bunch of tooth structure. And it only applies in cases where there is not a lot of decay and cavity in the tooth.

Unfortunately this is not something that you have any control over and is at the sole discretion of your dentist. If your dentist goes into the tooth and can’t find the canal and is forced to increase the size of the access hole then you will automatically require a post.

Final Thought

If your dentist or endodontist removes a substantial amount of your tooth structure then a post can help to better restore your tooth to its original state. It basically improves your odds of not having to redo the treatment in the future. Without the placement of a post the chances of the crown breaking off or falling out increases greatly. Should this happen you will probably either have to redo the entire post and crown procedure over or even risk losing the tooth. Keep in mind that the post placement must be performed between the root canal treatment and the crown preparation appointment, you can’t go back and place the post once the crown has been fabricated.

If you are down to less than 20% of your natural tooth structure above the gumline things are not looking good for that tooth. A post may help a little but you are still likely to lose the tooth sooner than later. Before invention of dental implants it made sense to attempt to place a large post and perform additional treatments and surgeries in attempts to salvage the tooth at all costs. But these treatments add up to as much as a dental implant would cost only with much lower success rates. So you are almost always better off receiving the dental implant instead of trying to save these very badly broken teeth.

NEXT >> Placing a Post in a Root Canal Treated Tooth: Pros of Placing a Post

Placing a Post in a Root Canal Treated Tooth: Pros of NOT Placing a Post