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FAQ:  Root Canal Therapy RCT



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Question:
I went to a dentist not to long ago, they did some X-Rays and informed that I would need a Root Canal. Can I just get a filling instead of a root canal? Another question is if my teeth do require Root Canal, is crowning and posting it necessary? Can I just get the Root Canal without posting it or crowning it...Thanks

Answer:
Regarding needs for root canal treatment, often we can tell a tooth needs a root canal because of the amount of decay present in an x-ray. If the decay extends to the nerve of the tooth or very close, it can be anticipated that a root canal will be needed to prevent infection of the tooth. Sometimes, the tooth does not hurt at all. Other times, a patient experiences pain to cold, hot or pressure (biting).

Any or none of these symptoms can be present. After root canal treatment, the tooth will need a crown (especially if a back tooth), because the root canal treatment will weaken the tooth and a crown will bring the tooth back to a strong position. Teeth become brittle after the nerve is removed and the crown will "tie" the tooth back together.

A post is usually only needed if the tooth is severly broken down to hold the core (build up) on top of the root. This is like placing a piece of rebar into concrete. It will re-inforce the upper part of the tooth and hold everything together so the crown or cap has something to hold onto. I routinely place buildups on all of my back tooth crowns (root canal or not) to form the ideal shape for a crown. This proceedure is unfortunately overlooked sometimes by our profession and is very important to ensure that all of the decay and "hidden filling" material is removed and a fresh, decay free tooth is prepared for the new crown.

It sounds to me like you may have a tooth with decay and your dentist is doing the ideal treatment for you. If you just do a build up and not a crown, you run the risk of having the tooth break and possibly may need to be removed. You absolutely need to have the crown done if this is a back tooth! This is the standard of care in our country. You sometimes don't need a crown on a root canal treated front tooth if enough strong tooth remains and can be filled with a bonded filling. The forces generated on a back tooth are much greater (like a nut cracker) since the tooth is closer to the jaw joint, and this fact makes a crown a requirement.
Your question is one I get almost daily and is a very good one. If you need more information, you can visit my web site at www.smilesbysutton.com or better yet, just ask your dentist. Best of luck

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