Root canal procedures are performed in order to save teeth that might otherwise break down due to infection. By removing the infected tissue within a tooth and then filling the tooth with composite resin, a patient may then continue to comfortably use that tooth. However, in many cases, a tooth that has had a root canal should then be capped or crowned.
The purpose of the nerve within a tooth is to both provide sensation to aid with chewing and nourishment to keep the tooth strong and healthy. Nutrients and oxygen travel along the blood vessels to the layer of tooth that lies under enamel, known as dentin. Dentin provides a cushion for your teet,h as it is porous and less rigid than enamel, but if the nutrient supply is cut off, the tooth eventually becomes brittle and thus may break more easily.
This is why dentists recommend that you crown a tooth after a root canal.
Molars Always Need Dental Crowns After Root Canals
Your molars are more prone to breaking than the rest of your teeth, especially after a root canal. This is because when you chew your food, your molars take the most pressure, as they are designed to crush and grind food, not cut or tear it as is the case with incisors and canines. As a result, if your molars are deprived of the nutrients supplied by the pulp (nerve), the constant forces exerted on them whilst you chew could cause them to break.
Therefore, molars should always be capped after root canal therapy.
Incisors and Canines Can be Filled
Canines and incisors generally come under much less pressure while you chew your food. They also do not contain the pits and grooves that your premolars and molars do and so are less prone to cavities. Because of this, provided the decay or damage is minimal, these teeth can be filled rather than crowned and still last for many years post-treatment.
Bear in mind though, that in both cases, it is important that you also do your part. Poor oral hygiene and bad habits such as nail biting will speed up the rate at which your teeth decline. This goes for crowned and uncrowned teeth. Bacteria can still find their way under a crown if you allow plaque and tartar to build up around their edges.
You can go months or even years without putting a crown on a tooth that has had a recent root canal, however, in the case of molars, it is only a matter of time before they break. Contact your dentist for more information.