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Dentistry/final restoration in root canal teeth


QUESTION: Hi Dr. Backlund,

When it comes to root canals and having a final restoration such as a permanent filling, if the permanent filling chips off a bit, will that made the root canal fail? When dentists do permanent fillings on root canal teeth, do they usually just have enough to cover the hole or do they put extra around the edge just in case anything chips? Hope that makes sense. Thanks.


ANSWER: Hi Kelly,

After we do root canals, we only replace the amount of filling that was removed when we make the hole to access the inside of the tooth. If we added any extra, it could affect the way your teeth would come together and make it sore to bite. We NEVER add extra for any reason.

If you have had a piece chip off, as long as the root canal filling is still covered, it will not cause the root canal to fail. If the root canal filling is exposed, saliva can erode the cement and cause the root canal to fail. I would suggest that you call your dentists and explain what has happened and get in for a recheck. Then you will know that you need the filling replaced or that all is well.

Hope this helps.

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi thanks for your reply. May I clarify something? Is there a difference between the outside filling to cover the hole (where you can see like composite filling) and root canal filling? Are they the same? When you said as long as the root canal filling is not exposed, do you mean the filling inside of the tooth or outside of the tooth? When a root canal is done, is the canal sealed just in case the outside (composite or silver fillings) cracks or chips and even if there's a crack or chip, the root canal will be well protected? Meaning that even though the composite or silver filling chips or is exposed, the root canal will still be fine. Yeah I'm a bit confused about that. Please kindly clarify. And also, I would just like to know is it normal for fillings to feel a bit rough or like there's like a break or line between the filling and the tooth when you touch it with your tongue, is that suppose to be normal? My dentist will not return until the end of the month so I just wanted to see if I can get some answers and doing my best to describe it. Thank you for your help. I will be sure to give you a positive rating, thank you!

Hi again Kelly,

Yes, there is a difference between the two fillings. A root canal is usually filled with a material called gutta percha. It is soft, pink and can be packed into the inside of the tooth. It is cemented in with a cement that can dissolve if contaminated with saliva. Therefore, after the root canal is complete, a silver or composite filling is placed to seal and protect the filling in the root. Even if this chips, the inside is still usually protected.

Fillings should feel smooth. It sounds to me like you will be fine until your dentist gets back, but you should then get in for a recheck.

I hope that answers your questions.

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD


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Gary Backlund, DMD, MSD


I am an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) and can answer questions about root canals and their treatment. I cannot diagnose or treat online, but can answer general questions. I have been a specialist for 25 years and am Past President of the Washington State Association of Endodontists.


25 years practicing as a specialist

American Association of Endodonists, Past President Washington State Association of Endodontists.

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