06 Apr 2018 Root Canals and Crowns-Do I Always Need Both?
No one looks forward to a root canal. Your tooth can ache deeply and your wallet can, too. When a dentist recommends doing a crown over a root canal, have you wondered if it was really necessary? Crowns can be expensive. Most of us are always looking for ways to cut rising medical and dental bills.
This article explores when a root canal AND a crown are needed—and when they are not.
One of the quickest ways to decide if you need a crown over a root canal is the location of the tooth in your mouth. Is the tooth a molar (back tooth used for grinding) or an incisor (front tooth used for tearing)? Often molars will need a crown and incisors will not. Of course there are other factors to consider.
Factors that determine if you need a crown after a root canal
- Do you grind your teeth? If you do, your likelihood of needing a root canal goes up because your tooth will need the protection that a crown provides.
- Do your teeth break easily? If they do, they will need protecting.
- Is your tooth cracked? Past the gum line? Cracks in teeth don’t heal the way broken bones do. If you tooth is cracked, it will need a crown. However, make sure the tooth is cracked, not just “crazed.” Craze likes are stress lines in teeth that don’t affect your tooth’s structure like a crack does.
- How bad is the decay that is causing you to have a root canal? How much of your tooth is left? If not very much tooth is left, you will have a much better chance of keeping it with a crown.
- Is there a tooth above or below it with a root canal? If so, the chance of the tooth surviving goes up with more protection.
Do I have any other options besides a crown?
Another option besides a crown is getting a filling on the tooth. You may need a root canal later, but the filling can provide some strength to the root-canaled tooth. It just depends on how big the filling would be. Fillings don’t give the same protection crowns do.
The bottom line
Sometimes when a dentist recommends a crown after a root canal, it may seem like an unnecessary expense. If the tooth is in the back of the mouth, cracked, or severely damaged by decay, a dentist will almost always recommend a crown because it makes the tooth so much stronger. Statistically, teeth that have crowns last longer. It is better for the health of your mouth to hold onto an existing tooth rather that get in a situation when you have a root-canaled tooth break off. If that happens, you are looking at an extraction and some kind of a bridge or an implant. Think of the crown as a preventive measure. Sure, maybe on a root-canaled tooth you could go a few years without a crown. But the reality is that when it cracks or breaks, it will most likely be beyond saving.