Do You Always Need a Crown After a Root Canal?

Root canal and dental crown

Dental Crowns and Root Canal Therapy

Dental crowns and root canal therapy are two popular restorative services that can save badly decayed teeth from extraction. Dentists often combine them by first performing a root canal followed by placing a permanent crown over the treated tooth.

Curious patients often wonder if a dental crown is necessary after their root canal or if an alternative option exists. To best answer this question, let’s dive into what a root canal does to a tooth and why dental crowns complement this treatment plan so well. 

What is a root canal, and how does it work?

Root canal therapy treats teeth that have developed extensive decay that reaches beyond the enamel and dentin layers to the interior or pulp of the tooth.

A tooth’s pulp is home to extremely sensitive nerves, which explains why intense, painful toothaches often indicate infected pulp or a dental abscess. Root canals allow dentists to save teeth from extraction by removing the infected or inflamed pulp and all other bacteria debris. The remaining tooth is restored to health, and the patient will be completely pain-free. 

However, the tooth won’t have the same stability and strength as it once did. With the pulp removed, your tooth has essentially become hollow. Your dentist will fill this space with a special sealant, but your tooth alone won’t be as strong as a natural, healthy tooth. This is why dental crowns are often performed after a root canal.

What is a dental crown, and why are they used after root canals?

Dental crowns are one of the most versatile types of restorations used by dentists. They are primarily used to strengthen weak, vulnerable teeth but can also be used as a cosmetic service for permanently changing the appearance of a chipped or discolored tooth. 

Dental crowns completely envelop a tooth in durable materials like ceramic or zirconia, giving it a new appearance and a protective shell. Materials like ceramic and zirconia allow dentists or design labs to create dental crowns that look ultra-realistic and customized to blend in with your smile. Although it’s still possible to get metal alloy crowns, most patients agree that a seamless, natural-looking smile is the most attractive.

So, why do dentists use dental crowns after root canals? The answer is fairly straightforward. 

Dental crowns offer the protection and stability a tooth needs to function normally after root canal therapy. Dental fillings or inlays may cover the hole left from accessing the tooth’s interior, but they don’t add strength to the entirety of a fragile tooth.

A dental crown may not be necessary in rare cases, but this is generally quite uncommon. If you’re in a situation where a crown may not be the best choice to protect your tooth, your dentist will explain your options. 

What happens during and after a root canal with a dental crown visit?

Another common question we’re asked is, “How long does a root canal take?” The average root canal takes less than an hour to complete, and some simple cases may be done in just 30 minutes or so.

As for the dental crown, you’ll either leave your root canal appointment with a permanent, same-day CEREC crown or a temporary crown while your permanent zirconia crown is being created in a lab. A lab-created crown is typically sent to us within two weeks, and you’ll return to have it fitted permanently.

Even though a root canal puts an end to tooth pain, it’s normal to feel some discomfort for a few days after the procedure has been done. You might also feel some tenderness when your permanent crown is placed, even if it’s been two weeks or more since your actual root canal. Taking OTC pain relievers and eating soft foods can help alleviate any discomfort, and before you know it, you’ll be back to your old self.

As for aftercare, following your dentist’s instructions is crucial to keep your tooth healthy.

You may have heard the myth that a crowned tooth is impervious to tooth decay. While the dental crown itself can’t develop decay because it’s made of ceramic or zirconia, it’s still possible for decay to reach inside the crown at the gum line. Therefore, ensure you thoroughly brush and floss around every tooth, whether it has a dental crown or not. If decay occurs under a dental crown, chances are high that extraction may be the only solution.

Schedule a root canal and dental crown consultation with Dr. Alhadef.

If you’re currently experiencing a toothache, it’s time to get relief. Modern root canals are a breeze; best of all, they’ll put a permanent end to your pain. Take the first step toward a healthier smile by booking a visit with Dr. Alhadef, one of the best dentists in Dallas, TX. You can schedule your appointment by calling our office or requesting a visit online.