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What Happens if My Tooth Cracks After Root Canal Treatment

Sep 28, 2023

Root canal treatment, or endodontic therapy, is a procedure that is designed to save the natural structure of an infected tooth. This is recommended when infection gets into the dental pulp, which is where the nerves and blood vessels are located. Dr. Afroz Burges often recommends this procedure as a first option to avoid extraction and replacement.

However, while this procedure does prevent extraction, it also weakens the tooth which means it is more likely to fracture. This is why a dental crown is recommended following root canal treatment to avoid further damage.

In this article, we’ll explain more about tooth fractures after root canal treatment including causes, what to do, and what to do while waiting to get to the dentist.

Common Causes of Tooth Fracture after Root Canal Treatment 

The primary cause of tooth fracture is devitalization, which is when damage/decay turns a tooth into an “eggshell”. Even when a tooth is filled following root canal treatment, the structure is weaker than if it were supported by the nerves and blood vessels.

Tooth fracture often occurs due to bruxism, trauma, or biting down too hard with the affected tooth.

How Do I Know if My Root Canal Treated Tooth is Fractured?

Tooth fracture after root canal treatment is difficult to detect. Since the nerves and blood vessels have been removed, you may not feel any pain. If you do feel pain, the crack is likely severe and close to the gumline. This is why follow-up and regular dental check-ups are important- so that your oral health can be monitored.

However, there are a few symptoms that may indicate you have a fractured tooth after root canal treatment:

  • Tooth sensitivity, especially with extreme temperatures or sweets
  • Persistent pain around the treated tooth
  • Feeling a crack with your tongue

What Happens If Your Tooth Breaks Following Root Canal Treatment

If your tooth breaks following root canal treatment, it’s important to contact an emergency dentist. Treatment depends on how the tooth was fractured.

  • If only the crown of the tooth is affected, the dentist can place a crown over it to protect it from further damage.
  • If the tooth root is affected, the tooth will need to be extracted. In this case, replacement options will need to be considered- typically a dental bridge or dental implant.
  • If the tooth is shattered, the pieces will need to be removed and replacement options considered.

In some cases, root canal retreatment may be appropriate. This will allow you to keep the natural tooth.

What Can I Do While I Wait for An Appointment?

If your root canal treated tooth breaks at home, you should contact an emergency dentist for treatment. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may have to wait for an appointment. If the pain is not unbearable or there is no swelling or bleeding, you may have to wait.

In the meantime, you should avoid chewing on the affected tooth. Additionally, you should make sure to keep it clean and talk to your local pharmacy about a dental bandage to fill the hole.

Tips to Avoid Tooth Fracture

Sometimes, tooth fracture is out of your control. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of tooth fracture:

  • Practice proper oral hygiene by brushing twice daily and flossing at least once- preferably with a water flosser. Use an alcohol-free, antibacterial mouthwash.
  • Wear a mouthguard if you play contact sports and a nightguard if you clench/grind your teeth while you sleep.

If you have young children at home, teach them the importance of proper oral care and what they should do if something happens to their teeth.

Cost to Repair a Fractured Tooth After Root Canal Treatment

The average cost of root canal treatment ranges from $1,000 to $1,600. If your tooth fractures after root canal treatment, root canal retreatment could range from around $500 to $1,500.

If the dentist can repair the tooth, the minimum cost will be around $100 for a composite dental filling. However, if you need a dental crown, the cost usually ranges from around $800 to $3,000.

In most cases, dental insurance will cover a portion of the original treatment as well as the retreatment or repair procedures.



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