When a tooth becomes infected and has extensive nerve damage, a root canal is often necessary. Dr. Van Zyl performs this procedure at his Collierville practice, The Van Zyl Center for Advanced Dentistry. After a root canal has been performed, Dr. Van Zyl recommends that patients reinforce the structure of the affected tooth with a dental crown.
Root canals are really two bad words to patients. They associate it with
excruciating pain. Everyone has heard a horror story about a root canal
that's gone bad.
In my experience, root canals are very good procedures in order for us to
save teeth. Ultimately, the best teeth that you can have are the ones that
grew in your mouth not the ones that dentists place there for you. So, we
do everything we can in order to save a tooth. Very often if a tooth was
traumatized either from multiple fillings, or a large cavity, or trauma to
the tooth where the nerve dies inside the tooth, we are able to go and
clean out the dead nerve tissue, seal the tooth, and return the tooth back
to normal function.
Basically, all we do is make a small little hole either in the top or the
back of the tooth depending on where the tooth is located, remove the
nerve, and fill it, put a filling in sometimes if it's a very small hole we
have to make. If the hole is big and the tooth is broken down very often
after a root canal we have to put a crown on there just to support the
It's not that the tooth becomes brittle over time, but it's kind of like
hollowing out a stump of a tree. If the hole is too big in the middle of
the stump, the sides are weak, so that's why we typically recommend for
patients to get crowns after root canals because we've removed the core
strength of a tooth.
I've seen it happen often in my practice where patients delay getting the
crown done after a root canal and the tooth fractures. Then they lose the
investment in the root canal, and the tooth has to be extracted. So, it's
very important after a root canal to get a restoration in place that will
support the rest of the tooth.