In 2002, I had a root canal on a canine tooth. My dentist of 3 years suggests putting a crown over the tooth to prevent it from breaking. The tooth does not hurt, so I asked my dentist if something is visibly wrong with the tooth. He said no, but the crown is preventive care. Do I need a crown on the tooth? I do not want to refuse treatment and end up with extraction and dental implant. Thank you. Leland from GA
Thank you for your question.
Root canal weakens a tooth and increases the risk of breaking. But differences between molar teeth and front teeth causes some cosmetic dentists to avoid placing crowns on front root canal teeth.
- Molar teeth – The stress of biting and chewing pushes the four cusps (the biting points) of molar teeth apart. The teeth are at risk of breaking after root canal treatment.
- Front teeth – Designed for biting and tearing, front teeth are affected by horizontal shearing stress. Canine teeth absorb horizontal pressure to protect molar teeth. The long roots of canine teeth help them absorb stress.
Does a Canine Root Canal Tooth Need a Crown?
Unless your canine root canal tooth is already missing most of its structure, you do not need a crown. Additionally, a dentist may recommend a crown if the tooth is dark or poorly shaped and detracting from your smile.
Shaving a canine tooth for a crown requires reducing about one millimeter of tooth structure all around the tooth. The tooth may be left with as little as 50% of its initial fracture resistance.
Many cosmetic dentists strengthen canine teeth by placing a flexible fiberglass post in the tooth and filling in the tooth with composite. This process can protect the tooth from stress and minimize dark discoloration after root canal treatment. The added strength of a fiberglass post helps prevent breakage and the need for tooth replacement options, such as a dental implant.
You can get a second opinion from a cosmetic dentist to see if your tooth is weak and needs a post to support it.
Steven Brooksher, DDS of Baton Rouge, sponsors this post.