Post and Core: Another Reason for a Root Canal

The first stage of a journey that generally ends in root canal treatment is a toothache. The discomfort in the tooth is being felt by its internal pulp (which is the nerve), and this is the only part of the tooth that is capable of registering sensation. The pulp is becoming infected, and its removal is the most comprehensive way to eliminate this infection. But there are some cases when a root canal is necessary, even though the tooth's pulp might not yet be in danger.

The Empty Pulp Chamber

When a tooth's pulp is removed, the empty pulp chamber is filled with a latex called gutta-percha in most instances, and then the tooth is closed with a filling and sometimes a dental crown as well. But a root canal can be necessary to save a deteriorating tooth, regardless of the state of its pulp.

Rebuilding the Tooth

If a tooth has lost its structural integrity and is beginning to fragment, a root canal can help to rebuild the tooth. The pulp inside may still be healthy, but given the state of the dentin and dental enamel on the tooth's exterior, bacterial contamination and infection of the pulp may be inevitable. To save the tooth, its pulp must be removed as the space inside the pulp chamber has been earmarked for something else.

Post and Core

A root canal is performed as the first step to restore the tooth. Instead of packing the empty pulp chamber with gutta-percha or another comparable material, the empty pulp chamber is used to hold a small metal post. The deficient tooth can then be rebuilt around this post using robust dental resins, forming a new core for the tooth. The tooth is then fitted with a dental crown. This method is known as post and core, and it can save a tooth when the tooth lacks the strength or mass to support a dental crown. The removal of the dental pulp won't weaken the tooth in any way (which is obviously the case when a standard root canal is performed). The tooth's pulp has been replaced with a metal post, which will now help the tooth to retain its strength, allowing it to continue to function.

While most root canals are intended to solely remove the tooth's infected pulp, the post and core restoration method is another reason for a root canal. For some patients, it may be the only way to save their tooth.

For more information about getting a root canal, contact a local dental clinic.