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Root Canals

How long can I wait until getting a crown?

04/30/2007

Question:

I`m about to have a root canal done to my #30 tooth, which has a fairly large chip out on the side of it. My dentist said that after the RC, I`d come back in and have a crown done. Finances are an issue, and if I can wait until January, my insurance will cover most of the crown ($1200). How long can I safely wait with a temporary filling(plug) before getting the tooth crowned?

Answer:

A permanent filling will need to be placed after the root canal treatment is completed. This will help seal the root canal while you are waiting to have the crown done. Merely having a temporary filling in the tooth for 8 months will greatly increase the risk of reinfection and the need for having to have the root canal redone. Also, the longer a patient waits to have a crown done on a back tooth following a root canal, the greater the risk of losing the tooth. The problem is that without the crown, the tooth is at risk for cracking/fracture.

There is no set time when this can occur. Research has shown that back teeth that do not get crowns will have a significantly lower prognosis and survivability rate than those that do get crowns. Unfortunately you have to decide how much risk you are willing to take. If the tooth fractures down the root, the tooth will need to be extracted, and to replace that tooth will cost significantly more than having the crown.

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Response by:

John M Nusstein, DDS John M Nusstein, DDS
Associate Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University