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Root Canal vs. Crown: How Are They Different?

root canal vs crown

Approximately 26% of adults in the United States have tooth decay and are not currently receiving any treatment. It may seem tempting to push aside sensitive or painful teeth, but the reality is that you could be causing more harm than good. 

Untreated tooth decay can lead to severe infections. You could risk a complete tooth extraction (or worse), which may cost more money than treating it upfront. A root canal vs crown is often debated when it comes to damaged or decaying teeth. 

While both sound unpleasant, they can save your teeth, improve appearances, and provide long-lasting results. To find out more about which one is right for you, we have a must-read guide. 

In our article, we will address the differences and similarities between a root canal and a dental crown, including the final price tag. Keep reading on for more information!

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure designed to prevent the need for a complete tooth extraction. The three primary signs that may indicate the need for a root canal are:

  • Tooth discoloration 
  • Pain
  • Gum tenderness or swelling

Within your tooth, there are three layers. Root canals target the innermost layer called the pulp. Your tooth’s pulp supplies nerves and blood supply to your tooth and is prone to infection or damage. 

Root canals remove the pulp, reducing some of the uncomfortable symptoms noted above. After the procedure, it is typical that you may experience some discomfort or mild pain. As with any procedure, there are risks of infections. 

Your dentist will recommend proper aftercare to mitigate these concerns. Yet, you should always follow up with your dentist if you notice changes in pain, drainage, or swelling.

Usually, a sealant and/or filling is used to prevent saliva, food, or drink from infecting the area. You and your dentist may also choose to add a dental crown over the top for additional protection. 

What Is a Dental Crown?

Another common dental procedure is a dental crown or cap. A dental crown is a cap placed on the outside of our tooth that can restore broken, discolored, or injured teeth. 

You can use dental crowns with full implants or over original teeth. First, your tooth’s enamel will need to be filed down. Afterward, your dentist will take an impression and fit a temporary crown to protect your tooth and prevent sensitivity or pain. 

The mold is sent to a laboratory where your permanent crown is created using porcelain, porcelain combined with metal, or gold. When your permanent crown arrives at the dental clinic, you will have one last procedure to fit your permanent cap. 

Root Canal vs Crown

Root canals and dental crowns fall under restorative dental procedures. They help restore your tooth’s function, preventing further damage or decay. Additionally, these two procedures are critical for protecting your other teeth.

But how can you tell which one you will need? Most of the deciding factors come down to you and your dentist based on in-person examinations. Your qualified dentist will visually inspect the tooth and may perform imaging to get a more in-depth look. 

With significant tooth damage or decay, you may need complete tooth removal, implant, and crown. The primary difference is dental crowns can be used solely as a cosmetic procedure. 

Dental crowns can improve the shape and color of your teeth and last five to fifteen years on average. Root canals are only used if there is decay, injury, or damage.

It isn’t always indicated that you will need a crown over a root canal. However, if you have a root canal procedure along your back molars, your dentist may advise a crown for additional protection against chewing or grinding. 

Root Canal Cost vs Dental Crown Cost

If you have dental insurance, your insurance should cover root canals. If a dental procedure falls under the classification of “medically necessary,” at least some portion will typically receive coverage. Check with your dental clinic first about in-network providers and payment options. 

Typically, your root canal costs will total $1,000 to $3,000. Although, if you have more than one root canal or an additional dental crown, you can expect an increase in expenses. 

If you opt for a dental crown is a cosmetic procedure, it is less likely you will receive coverage from insurance. Dental crown costs will vary on location, materials, and how many you need. 

However, compared to dental veneers, they are usually much cheaper. Veneers can cost upward of $2,500 per tooth, while dental crown costs range between $800 and $1,700 per tooth. Some of the other costs that you should include with root canals or dental crowns are:

  • Clinic fees
  • Anesthesia
  • Medication

The fees for each clinic and dentist may vary slightly, including insurance coverage. For the most transparent costs, you should follow up with your insurance provider before scheduling your root canal or crown procedure. 

Do You Need a Dental Procedure?

Dental procedures like a root canal vs crown can restore teeth and prevent further decay. Ultimately, they can reduce your chances of needing a full dental implant, which can cost thousands. 

Root canals are only used for decay or damage. Contrarily, crowns are often combined with a root canal procedure, but they can also be used for implants or cosmetic purposes. 

Porcelain or precious metals may cost more money, and you should discuss with your dentist what will work best for your teeth and long-term outcomes. To get started with your procedure, contact our clinic and schedule an appointment!

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