Root canal therapy is a common dental procedure where the dentist goes inside the tooth to remove infected and inflamed pulp material that risks damaging or killing the tooth. The multi-step process starts with an access hole drilled into the tooth and ends with a dental crown bonded over the exterior of the natural tooth. You might wonder why you need a dental crown over your tooth, especially so soon after a root canal.
But there are a couple of key reasons your dentist needs to place a dental crown over your tooth following root canal therapy.
Seals the Tooth Closed to Protect the Canal
The dental crown closes up the hole created when the dentist needed access to the root canal in order to scrape out the pulp. The hole might seem small and inconsequential but any hole straight to the center of your tooth opens a potential pathway for harmful oral bacteria. Leaving the hole uncovered could allow the bacteria to head straight into your tooth, which would create a new infection and undo the work of your root canal procedure.
Offers Further Stability and Protection to the Dentin
A dental crown bonds over the entire exterior of your natural tooth and offers a new layer of stability and protection to the dentin, which is the sensitive tooth material between the enamel and the interior root canal. Placing the dental crown ensures that any structural damage caused by the dental infection, or a preceding trauma such as a chipped tooth or a deep cavity, won't put the tooth at further risk of decay or damage.
Covering the access hole also helps keep the tooth from further exterior damage, as the hole could create a weak spot where the tooth would be more vulnerable to cracking or chipping. Cracks or chips could again expose the root canal system and create another infection.
Improves the Cosmetic Look of the Tooth
Dental infections often result from cracks, chips, or severe cavities that left the tooth open and exposed. The infection and inflamed pulp can push out on the interior of the tooth and worsen these cosmetic issues. Once the root canal procedure has removed the infection, your dentist can correct these cosmetic flaws with the dental crown placed on the tooth.
Your dentist might have to gently file away some of your existing dentin to remove any sharp edges from chips before bonding the dental crown in place. This step ensures that the crown fits tightly, feels as natural as possible, and looks as good as possible on your tooth.