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Dentistry/Root Canal and Crown versus Extraction


I have a #19 molar with a small crack parallel with the jaw bone that is causing sensitivity discomfort.  My dentist has recommended a root canal and crown as the repair.  I do not know many people who have been satisfied with the long term outcome of a root canal and crown procedure and am contemplating having the tooth extracted instead.

Should I consider some alternative procedure?  Is there something newer that could work?  Right now, I have no infection or root issues.  The only symptom is sensitivity.

Thanks in advance.

Hi Don,

I'm sorry you have this going on. Cracks can be long term problems, but it really depends on the size and depth of the crack. From your description, it sounds like you crack is minor. We often see this type of thing in my practice. Unless the symptoms are severe, we usually suggest that the dentist prepare the tooth for a crown, place a VERY well fitting temporary crown on the tooth to splint the tooth together and leave it there for 2-3 months. If all the symptoms go away, just place the permanent crown. If they don't, or certainly if they get worse, then do the root canal followed by the permanent crown. Doing it this way has a very high success rate, however, even with all that some teeth never feel right and are extracted.

Should you decide to have the tooth removed, then you are dealing with replacing it. Really only 2 options...a bridge or an implant, both of which are very expensive and not as satisfactory as your natural teeth. Both can also be future problems and fail.

The ultimate choice is's your mouth, your time and your money. If you were my brother, I would suggest the plan I outlined above.

Hope this helps.

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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