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Some people think that a root canal treatment is necessary before installing a crown and vice versa. However, both of them are entirely separate procedures and one can most certainly be performed without a need for the other. With that said, many crowned teeth end up getting root canal treatment done, and patients who have had root canal treatment usually require crowns. This article will explain more about crowns, root canal treatment and the relationship between both treatments.

What is a root canal treatment?

Our teeth contain nerves, blood vessels and enamel. When a tooth has extensive cavities or becomes damaged due to an accident, the nerves and blood vessels become extra sensitive. In some cases, this tooth can be restored with some filling; but if the situation persists, the pulp tissue eventually becomes inflamed. The result is severe pain in the tooth which does not go away  even with medication. In order to save the tooth from extraction, a root canal treatment is performed. This procedure removes any inflamed or infected nerve tissue, thereby stopping the pain.

Signs you need root canal treatment

Pain

Patients experience severe and continuous pain and in some cases make an emergency visit to the dentist due to the excruciating pain. This pain can be felt whenever they bite on food too.

Swelling

Inflammation of the tissues can lead to swelling around the affected tooth.

Pus

In some cases, pus can ooze out of the tissues surrounding the damaged tooth.

Loose tooth

When the infection travels to the structure supporting the damaged tooth, the tooth becomes destroyed. When this happens, this tooth becomes loose and may fall out if treatment is not sought in time.

If you have one or more of these symptoms, you should see a dentist immediately.

What is a crown?

A crown is a dental cap that covers over the whole tooth to protect the tooth. This restores the tooth back to its original shape and protects the tooth from further damage.

Why crown a tooth?

The following reasons are typically why a tooth is crowned:

Protection

A crown may be put in place for teeth that’s badly broken down and cannot be salvaged with normal filling. For chipped teeth, crowns can protect the teeth from wear and tear.

Improve the appearance of teeth

While teeth whitening is effective, they do not eliminate all kinds of stains, such as those caused by tooth decay or overexposure to fluoride. In such instances, crowns are used to cover up the discoloured tooth to improve the look of the patient’s smile.

Anchors for dental bridges

When a patient opts for dental bridges for tooth replacement, the two adjacent teeth are usually fitted with crowns to strengthen them. This makes them better anchors for the bridge.

After root canal treatment

During a root canal treatment, the dentist drills through the tooth to remove infected enamel and pulp. This causes the tooth to weaken. A crown is put in place to protect the tooth from further damage. Studies reveal that a dental crown after a root canal treatment improves the tooth’s survival rate by about six times.

When would crowned teeth require root canal treatment?

For the most part, crowns are usually used to protect and rebuild teeth that have experienced some form of damage. Before the crown is installed, it’s ideal that anything that compromises the tooth’s nerve tissue is removed.  As such, if the tooth is significantly damaged, it’s better to perform a root canal treatment first to ensure any infection is removed. In most cases, the events that lead to the need for a crown usually require a need for a root canal treatment too.

Otherwise, if you’re getting a crown purely for aesthetic reasons or if your tooth is not acutely infected or inflamed, a root canal treatment will not be needed. In most cases, it’s the other way round; teeth that undergo root canal treatment usually require crowns after for protection. This is especially so for teeth in the back or molars and premolars. Front teeth, incisors and canines may not require a crown. Your dentist will be able to advise better.

References

  1. Ford, T. R., & Rhodes, J. S. (2004). Root canal retreatment: I. Case assessment and treatment planning. Dental update, 31(1), 34–39. https://doi.org/10.12968/denu.2004.31.1.34
  2. Coffman, C. R., & Visser, L. (2007). Crown restoration of the endodontically treated tooth: literature review. Journal of veterinary dentistry, 24(1), 9–12. https://doi.org/10.1177/089875640702400102

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