Can a Tooth Still Decay After a Root Canal?

A root canal is a common dental procedure often performed to save a severely infected or decayed tooth. But, one question that frequently arises among patients is, “Can a tooth still decay after a root canal?” or “Is a root canal tooth dead?” This blog post aims to shed light on these queries and provide you with the necessary knowledge about the life of your tooth after undergoing a root canal.

Understanding Root Canal Treatment

Before we delve into whether or not a tooth can decay after undergoing this procedure, let’s first understand what happens during a root canal treatment. A root canal is performed when the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected or inflamed due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, or damage such as cracks or fractures. The dentist removes the infected pulp, cleans and disinfects the inside of the tooth, then fills and seals it.

Is A Root Canal Tooth Dead?

After the removal of the pulp during a root canal treatment, technically speaking, yes – the treated tooth can be considered ‘dead’. This is because it no longer contains any living tissue or nerves. However, this doesn’t mean that it loses its functionality. The treated tooth remains in place and continues to perform its duties like any other healthy teeth in terms of biting and chewing food. It does get more brittle though, and almost always need to be protected with a crown.

Can A Tooth Still Decay After A Root Canal?

Now let’s address our main question – can a tooth still decay after undergoing this procedure? Unfortunately, even though the nerves are removed during treatment making it ‘dead’, it doesn’t make your treated tooth invincible against future decay.
The outer part of your teeth – known as enamel – does not receive any nutrients from your body’s bloodstream and thus remains unaffected by whether there is living tissue inside your teeth. Therefore, without proper care and hygiene practices post-treatment, bacteria can still infiltrate through weak spots in your treated tooth leading to further decay.

Preventing Decay After A Root Canal

While it’s true that even after undergoing a root canal treatment your tooth can still be susceptible to decay, there are several ways you can prevent this from happening:

  1. Good Oral Hygiene: Brushing twice daily using fluoride-based toothpaste and flossing at least once daily helps remove plaque build-up which is responsible for causing cavities.
  2. Regular Dental Check-ups: Regular visits to your dentist help detect early signs of cavities before they become severe.
  3. Use of Dental Sealants: Dental sealants are protective coatings applied on teeth (especially molars) that prevent bacteria from settling down and causing cavities.
  4. Healthy Diet: Consuming less sugary foods and drinks reduces chances of developing cavities.

In Closing

In conclusion, while technically considered ‘dead’ post-procedure due to lack of living tissue within them; yes – teeth can still experience decay following root canal treatment if not properly cared for. However, with good oral hygiene practices and regular dental check-ups; you can ensure that your treated teeth remain healthy for years to come! At Warrier Family Dentistry we are here for all your dental needs.

head shot of Dr. Warrier

This article is

Medically Reviewed by 

Dr. Smita Warrier

Dr. Smita Warrier graduated dental school in 2004 from Tufts University in Boston. She relocated to Charlotte shortly after and started her practice in Ballantyne in 2007. She is very passionate about dentistry and providing top-notch care to her patients. 

She is a member of the American Dental Association as well as local and state dental organizations. She feels very strongly about staying abreast of the latest technologies and treatment care modalities and dedicates many hours in continuing education. 

She has been an Invisalign certified provider since 2006.

16143 Lancaster Highway,
Suite 101
Charlotte, NC – 28277

704 544 5500

Mon – Thu: 8am – 4:30pm
Friday: By Appointment
Sat – Sun: Closed



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