Root Canal for Broken Tooth?

I chipped my front central tooth in half. My dentsit is going to put on a veneer, but she tested the tooth for root canal and said it is fine. Even though there is no need for a root canal now, should I have one done anyway? Other than the cost, what would the negative be of having a root canal on the damaged tooth?

Doctor Answers 13

Root Canal for Broken Tooth

Sounds like your dentist is giving you very good advice.  It is rare that a tooth needs a root canal treatment so if you are not having any problems I would trust what she says.  Good luck!

Seattle Dentist

Root canal for broken tooth

It is my belief that patient's should only go to health care providers that they trust.  If your dentist says  root canal therapy is not needed, I would take him/her at their word.  The potential down side for an unnecessary root canal is that the fracure potenial fo the tooth is increased. 

Root canal after a broken tooth

Unless your tooth starts to turn dark or develops sensitivity to thermal changes, a veneer is probably a fine alternative.  If it is possible to avoid a root canal I certainly would.  There is no need to perform an elective procedure in this situation when it could still be accomplished in the future if necessary often times with no detrimental effects to the veneer.

Many positives to not having a root canal

I would fully trust your dentist about not having a root canal.  If the tooth nerve is healthy after the fracture, then the veneer is a perfect restoration.  The negatives to a root canal is the tooth will become more brittle over time, the tooth will slowly darken, and the root canal can even fail.  All of these are bad consequenses. 

I would strongly recommend you not getting a root canal as a preventive measure.  Best of luck!

Greg Lutke, DDS
Plano Dentist

Root Canal Treatment and Broken Teeth

Root canals on broken teeth are necessary if the fracture is extensive enough that the pulp is exposed.  Other indications for a root canal include deep decay and resorption.  If the dentist has confirmed through examination and pulp tests that the root system is vital and healthy, then a root canal is not necessary and should not be performed.  Once a root canal is done, the blood and nutrient supply of the tooth are depleted, causing the tooth to become brittle and weak.  As the saying goes, "Don't fix something that isn't broken."  Thank you, Dr. Elizabeth Jahanian.

Elizabeth Jahanian, DDS
Los Angeles Dentist

Broken teeth don't always need root canals

You don't want a root canal if you don't really need one. Endodontic treatment (a root canal) will make a tooth more likely to fracture over time. As long as there are no symptoms, and the tooth is checked (with x-ray ) periodically, you should be fine without a root canal.

Paul D. Kantor, DDS
Cleveland Dentist
4.8 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Root canal for veneer

Veneer is a great restorative modality which preserves natural tooth structure and esthetically enhances the appearance of the tooth. If your doctor told you that you do not need a root canal, trust him you don't need one:) Performing a root canal will result weakened tooth structure. Don't worry about root canal and enjoy your new veneer:)


Zina Kaleinikova, DDS, MS
Cleveland Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Endo for half tooth

I will assume you fractured the tooth horizontally, you have had no pain, no bleeding from the tooth center when it broke and the nerve was still live when tested by your dentist.  A veneer to restore the broken edge is a great choice.  Even though a problem was not apparent during pulp testing, the more important question is what is the proximity of the fracture to the pulp chamber.  If there is considerable distance, then a root canal may not be necessary.  If the fracture is close to the pulp, the nerve may have been damaged or traumatized beyond recovery and a root canal is probably a good choice to avoid future problems.

Since root canals on front teeth are done from the back side of the tooth, if a future root canal is needed, it probably will not effect the veneer.  Your dentist can brief you on the situation.  She can explain the pros and cons of doing a prophylactic root canal and guide you in the decision making process.

Marc Zive, DMD
Springfield Dentist

Trauma Happens to Broken Teeth

When you break a tooth, trauma has occurred.  We don't always know what  happens to the tooth immediately. 

You don't always need a root canal but the possibility exists that over time the tooth may die.  If the tooth has been evaluated for a root canal and does not show symptoms at this time, DO NOT DO ONE.  Root canals are very successful but not 100% of the time-they can fail.  They also can make a tooth brittle over time.

If the broken tooth is not sensitive and no color change has occurred, just fix the tooth. 

There may be a time when you need a root canal but if you have the tooth repaired either with a tooth colored bonded plastic filling or a veneer, the access is always available from the inside and a successful root canal can be preformed.

Wendy S. Spektor, DDS
Bellevue Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

To Root Canal Or Not To Root Canal

Root canal is  necessary if the nerve is damaged but if the tooth broke and the nerve is not damaged the best option depending how much tooth structure broke would be a veneer or a crown.  Root canal can weaken teeth making them fragile. Of course if a root canal is necessary  that's always better than extracting it.

Lawrence Gilbert, DDS
Woodbury Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.