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What is a root canal?

A root canal is performed to treat an infected or damaged tooth pulp. The tooth pulp is the soft tissue found in the center of the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed due to deep decay, a crack, or trauma, a root canal is necessary to save the tooth from extraction and alleviate pain.

During a root canal procedure, the dentist removes the infected or damaged pulp from the tooth. The tooth is then carefully cleaned and disinfected to remove any bacteria or debris. After cleaning, the tooth is filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha to seal the canals and prevent re-infection. In most cases, a dental crown is placed on top of the treated tooth to provide strength and protect it from further damage.

When are root canals needed?

Root canals are needed to save a tooth that would otherwise require extraction. They are essential to preserve natural teeth, restore oral function, and alleviate pain caused by severe tooth decay, infection, or trauma. By removing the infected or inflamed pulp, a root canal eliminates the source of discomfort and prevents the spread of infection to the surrounding tissues. This procedure allows individuals to maintain their natural teeth and enjoy normal biting and chewing capabilities, avoiding the need for more extensive dental restorations or tooth replacement options.

Will I need a crown?

While it is common to place a crown after a root canal procedure, it is not always necessary in every case. The need for a crown depends on several factors, including

  • the extent of the tooth’s damage,
  • its location in the mouth, and
  • your individual circumstances.

In instances where the treated tooth is structurally compromised, such as having significant decay, a large filling, or extensive tooth structure loss, a crown is often recommended to provide strength, support, and protection. The crown helps prevent fractures, restore the tooth’s functionality, and improve its appearance. Teeth that are less affected and can maintain their structural integrity may not call for a crown, and alternative options such as a filling or a dental onlay may suffice.

Ultimately, we look at the decision to place a crown after a root canal on a case-by-case basis and will work with you to come up with the right treatment plan.