Root Canal vs. Crown: What’s the Difference?

If you’re experiencing pain in your teeth, you may be wondering if you need a root canal or a crown. What’s the difference? Can you choose between one or the other? In this article, we will discuss the difference between root canals and crowns, why people usually get both and help you decide which is the best option for you. Keep reading to learn more!

The Difference Between a Root Canal vs Crown

Root Canal Vs Crown: Tooth Anatomy

Root canals and crowns are two extremely different dental procedures that are sometimes done together. Before diving into the difference, it is first important to understand the anatomy of a tooth.

Each tooth consists of layers known as enamel, dentin, and pulp. The enamel is the hard outer layer you see when you look in the mirror, the dentin lies beneath that and is softer than the enamel. Finally, the pulp is the innermost layer of a tooth containing nerve endings and blood vessels.

In addition to these layers, the tooth can be divided into two parts: the root and the crown. The root is below the gum line and serves to secure the tooth into the jawbone. The crown is the part of the tooth you see above the gum line.

What is a Root Canal?

Root canals are a procedure that involves cleaning out the inside of the root of a tooth and filling it with artificial material. They are typically used when the pulp of the tooth is infected or damaged by dental decay. Since your pulp is the innermost layer of your tooth, root canals are necessary to remove the infection and protect the root from further damage. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems, such as having the infection spread to other parts of your mouth and body.

What is a Dental Crown?

In contrast, a dental crown is a type of dental restoration that covers the top portion of a tooth. Crowns are usually made of porcelain, metal or ceramic and are used to protect and strengthen a damaged or decayed tooth. They also make teeth look more aesthetically pleasing. Crowns can be used after all sorts of procedures, one of which is after a root canal. For example, if your back teeth have root canals, a crown is usually used to help protect the root and seal it off from further damage.

When to Consider Root Canals vs Crowns

It’s important to understand that root canals and crowns serve different purposes. Root canals are used to treat the root of a tooth, while crowns are used to protect the crown of a tooth after root canals or other procedures have been completed. As such, root canals and crowns are often done together. But, root canals and crowns can also be performed separately depending on your specific needs.

If a root canal is performed on your front teeth, for example, a crown may not be necessary since the root canal will already have sealed off the root from further damage. But if you have root canals done on your back teeth, a crown is usually recommended to provide additional protection for the root.

Similarly, a crown may be all you need for a damaged or decayed tooth. For example, if only the enamel or dentin of your tooth is affected, a root canal may not be necessary. In that case, getting a crown to protect and strengthen the tooth may be all you need.

At the end of the day, only a dentist, who will use a dental x-ray to determine the extent of your problem, can tell you if root canals and crowns are necessary.

Remember That Prevention is Key

The best way to not spend money and time at the dentist and avoid the root canal vs crown decision is to practice preventive care. This includes:

  • Brushing twice a day: You should brush at least twice a day to remove plaque and bacteria. Make sure to brush near your gumline and the back of your teeth. These are the most commonly missed spots.
  • Flossing at least once a day (recommended twice): Flossing can help remove plaque and bacteria from areas that your toothbrush can’t reach. Floss in a C-shape motion around each tooth, going below the gumline.
  • Using fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride toothpaste can help protect your teeth from damage. It does this by strengthening your teeth and preventing cavities.

By following these preventive steps and regularly seeing your dentist, you’ll be more likely to avoid root canals and crowns.


So, root canals and crowns serve two very different purposes in the world of dentistry and are often used together to treat a damaged or decayed tooth. In many cases, root canals are necessary in order to protect the root of the tooth from further damage and crowns are used afterwards to provide additional protection and aesthetic appeal. Depending on your specific needs, root canals and crowns may be done separately or together.

If you’re still unsure about root canals and crowns, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will be able to assess your oral health and provide you with a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.


The contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nothing on this website constitutes the practice of medicine, law or any other regulated profession.

No two mouths are the same, and each oral situation is unique. As such, it isn’t possible to give comprehensive advice or diagnose oral conditions based on articles alone. The best way to ensure you’re getting the best dental care possible is to visit a dentist in person for an examination and consultation.


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