A root canal is necessary when the most inner layer of the tooth, the pulp, becomes infected. The pulp is the living part of the tooth which contains nerves and blood vessels. During a root canal, the infected pulp is removed and the area is cleaned. When the area is clean and dry, material is placed to fill in the inner part of the tooth. The root canal process is usually completed in 2 appointments. When the root canal is complete, the crown of the tooth needs to be restored. Due to the tooth’s loss of structure, it has weakened and needs to be covered by an artificial crown (cap). Some root canals may need to be referred to an endodontist due to difficulty of root canal.
Signs and symptoms of the possible need for a root canal
-swelling or tenderness
-sensitivity to hot, cold or biting
-a fistula- commonly appears as a pimple like bump next to the root of the tooth
Common causes indicating the need for a root canal
-deep decay that has reached the pulp of the tooth
-cracked or damaged tooth
-trauma to the tooth
The crown of a tooth is portion of the tooth above the gumline. It is covered by a hard substance called enamel. The natural crown may need to be replaced by an artificial crown, commonly called a “cap”. Crowns can be made of various different materials.
Common reasons for a crown:
-large area of decay
-tooth with a large filling/tooth has been filling multiple times
-a tooth that has been root canal treated
-aesthetic reasons such as discoloration or size/shape discrepencies
-At the first appointment the tooth will be numbed to make the procedure comfortable. The decay (if present) will be removed, and the tooth will be reshaped to make room for the new crown. An impression will be taken and will then be sent to the lab. A temporary crown will be made to protect the tooth until the permanent crown is made.
-The second visit is usually one to two weeks after the initial visit. During this visit, the permanent crown will be checked to make sure the patient and dentist are pleased with how it looks and fits. The crown is then cemented into place.
Please note that crowns are not a permanent restoration due to everyday use and the harsh environment of the mouth. They may need replacement in the future. It is very important to continue to brush and floss a crown like your natural teeth as a tooth with crown can still get a cavity.