If you need a root canal to deal with infection and inflammation of the pulp in a tooth, then you will have to consider how you will want to restore the tooth after the root canal. Because root canal procedures often require the removal of a large amount of your tooth, your options for restoration may be limited, but you should ask your dentist about the following restoration methods and whether they are appropriate for you.
Amalgam or Composite Filling
If you receive a root canal in one of your teeth that do not receive too much stress, such as a front tooth, then your dentist may be able to seal the root canal by placing an ordinary filling. The benefit of amalgam or composite fillings is that they are often the cheapest form of tooth restoration. However, they do not provide as much structural support as the other methods of restoration, so they are not adequate for the large restoration necessary after a root canal in a molar or premolar.
If you decide to get a filling as opposed to a different method of restoration, you may be able to choose between amalgam or composite fillings. Amalgam fillings are silver in color while composite fillings match the color of your teeth. Because this solution is usually only recommended for front teeth where the filling will be visible, composite is a better material choice. Amalgam fillings can cost between $50-$150 while composite fillings will usually cost between $90-$250 after a root canal.
An inlay is similar to a filling except a mold is taken of your tooth and the material is shaped to fit exactly into the missing section of your tooth. They are also often made of porcelain, which is stronger than composite filling material. However, they can be made from metal such as gold or a composite resin, similar to a filling. An inlay has the benefit of giving your tooth slightly more support and giving you a lasting tooth surface that looks and feels natural. However, they can only be placed if the outside edges of the tooth are still intact after the root canal procedure. Another issue with an inlay is that if there is too much pressure on the sides of the tooth during chewing, you may experience cracks in the future.
Onlay or Partial Crown
An onlay, also called a partial crown, is very similar to an inlay. The only difference is that they are used when one of the outer surfaces of the tooth has been damaged and the only material is placed on the remaining tooth as opposed to between parts of your natural tooth. Because an only often protects the chewing surface of your tooth from direct contact with other teeth or food, it can reduce the stress that your natural tooth experiences and may reduce cracking in the future. The cost of an inlay or onlay ranges between $650-$1200 per tooth.
A full crown is the most common choice for restoring your molars or premolars after a root canal. This is because the crown will protect your natural tooth more than any other type of restoration. A crown involves either a porcelain over metal ($500-$1500) or a fully metal ($600-$2500) tooth that is placed over the remainder of your natural tooth. In most cases, either a core will have to be built with composite materials or a post will be inserted into your tooth for the crown to sit on.
You should keep in mind that selecting a cheaper restoration method now can result in higher dental bills later if you have to replace a cracked or broken tooth due to a lack of support. For more information, contact a practice like Samuel D Knight, DDS.