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This is a good time to re-read the blog about Root Canals that was posted on January 24th 2012, because the current blog relates to it.
When we do a root canal, we’re actually taking the vital nerve and blood supply out of the tooth and replacing it with an artificial one. What happens is that the tooth in question tends to get dried out and brittle.
Imagine the following: you take the wishbone fresh out of the chicken…when you try to break it to make a wish, most often it doesn’t break, but instead it bends. This is because it still has moisture in it. But, if you leave it out for a few days, it’ll dry out and become brittle (see image above for full effect). Then when you try to break it and make your wish, it breaks very easily.
The same concept applies to a root canal treated tooth. A healthy tooth has a vital nerve and blood supply in it, so it is full of moisture which makes it strong. But, when we do a root canal, we are taking the nerve and blood supply out, so the tooth dries out over time and becomes brittle. Because it is subjected to a lot of force in the mouth and it is now brittle, we opt for a dental crown to protect it so it doesn’t fracture.
In addition, if a tooth is made up of mostly filling material, then this is another indication to place a dental crown. It is one thing to have a small filling in a tooth, but as the size of the filling gets larger, the tooth becomes weaker.
Filling material is not as strong as the actual tooth structure (enamel), so when there is too much filling material for the tooth to support, it can break more easily; hence, the need for a dental crown.
Whenever I do a large filling on a tooth, I tell the patient afterwards that the tooth needs a dental crown, because the tooth is weaker now than it was before. I let the patient know that a tooth is not meant to hold so much filling material and there is a good chance the tooth with the large filling may not hold up.
My professional advice
Look at the large filling as a temporary fix and treat it as a box with a fragile sticker on it. If it’s a back tooth, then try to eat on the other side. If it’s a front tooth, then try to avoid biting into it with food i.e., no corn on the cob or apples…it’s just for show until you get the crown.
We practice preventative dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and more. Is it time for a dental cap or crown? Call us today at (905) 791-3867 to learn more about your options.
About Dr. Robert Axelrad
Dr. Robert Axelrad is a Brampton dentist who owns and manages his own dental practice in Brampton, Ontario. Affectionately known as ‘The Gentle Dentist‘, his patients include children, adults and seniors from Brampton, Mississauga and across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Dr. Axelrad recently moved his practice to its current, state-of-the-art dental office at Bestgate Professional Center in in 2002 to accommodate his growing list of happy patients.