Will my tooth need special care after a root canal?

The purpose of a root canal, in which infected pulp is removed from the tooth’s core and replaced by a rubber-like substance, is to preserve a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted due to severe decay or injury. So, after going through a root canal, patients want to do everything possible to keep that tooth for the rest of its natural lifespan.

By nature, root canals weaken the teeth, which can leave them more likely to fracture. Therefore, endodontists, the dental specialists who perform root canals, will plan for an additional layer of protection after the procedure by recommending that a crown be placed on the specified tooth. Crown placement is typically performed after a root canal as a standard treatment.

Endodontists often refer the patient to the general dentist to have the crown placed and encourage patients to schedule the appointment for the restoration as soon as possible after the root canal procedure. Before the dentist is able to place the crown, the patient will need to exercise caution, as the tooth will be more susceptible to breakage.

After the crown is placed, the patient just needs to maintain a good oral hygiene routine of brushing twice a day and flossing daily, along with sticking to a schedule of semiannual checkups and cleanings with the dentist.

In some cases, the original root canal may not have the desired long-term effects, and the tooth may develop problems again. If that occurs—and it is relatively rare—the endodontist may still be able to save the tooth by performing another root canal.

After undergoing a root canal, your tooth should last as long as it would otherwise if it is protected by a crown and you practice good oral hygiene habits. During the treatment planning process, be sure to ask your dentist what you need to do to maximize the lifespan of the tooth treated with a root canal.