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Do You Need a Crown After a Root Canal?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

So you need a root canal. You're probably exploring your options and wondering, "Can I get a root canal without a crown?" A crown might supply the finishing touch you need to protect your tooth and keep it strong for years to come. However, a crown isn't necessary in every case. Ultimately, your dentist or endodontist will let you know what's best for your tooth, but you can explore which situations you might get a root canal without a crown.

Is a Crown Necessary After a Root Canal?

During a root canal procedure, the small, threadlike tissue in the tooth's center - the diseased or damaged pulp — is removed. The remaining space is then cleaned, shaped, and filled. Though root canals save teeth from decay, they cannot restore teeth to their former strength. Sometimes a tooth needs a little reinforcement.

A dentist or endodontist might choose to place a dental crown after a root canal for several reasons. These include:

  • To strengthen a fragile tooth. A previous injury, the removed tissue, or the trauma of drilling can all leave a tooth more fragile after a root canal. Placing a dental crown can provide the strength it needs to last and prevent any future damage.
  • To prevent infections. An infected or injured tooth is automatically at higher risk for recontamination. A dental crown provides an extra layer of protection against infection so you can avoid an extraction.
  • To protect from sensitivity. A root canal can leave some nerves feeling extra sensitive to temperature. Get a dental crown to tolerate the heat or chill better.
  • To provide a natural-looking appearance. Without the pulp, a tooth might appear gray or deeply stained. Restore the whiter shade and match the surrounding teeth with a dental crown.

When Can You Get a Root Canal With No Crown?

Dental crowns provide some fantastic benefits. In fact, a study in the Journal of Endodontics found a 90% survival rate for teeth placed with crowns after a root canal procedure. However, a dental crown isn’t always necessary. Ask yourself some of these questions to see if you would benefit from a crown:

  • Where is the tooth located? If the tooth receiving a root canal is in the back – so your molars or premolars — the chances are greater you’ll need a dental crown. This is because these teeth must withstand all the pressure of chewing and grinding, so they might require the extra strength a crown can provide. On the other hand, the front teeth — your canines and incisors — might be perfectly fine without a crown, depending on the level of excavation.
  • What is the condition of the tooth? The more injured or infected the tooth, the greater likelihood that you will need a dental crown. If the dentist or endodontist must excavate a large amount of the tooth during the root canal procedure, you will probably need a crown to reinforce the tooth. Molars and premolars that maintain a large amount of tooth and are at low risk for fracture might still be suitable for filling-only restorations after a root canal.
  • Has this tooth been restored before? Similarly, if the tooth has undergone several restoration procedures — including the root canal — it will most likely need a crown to maintain its appearance and function.

In the end, your dental professional will help you determine the best option for restoring a tooth after a root canal. If you’re worried about the cost or appearance of a crown, bring those concerns to your dental professional so you can work together to find the best solution for your smile.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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