The Difference Between Crowns and Root Canals

Skyview Dentistry office in Charlotte NC

Do you know the difference between a root canal and a dental crown?  

The short answer is: one is done on the outside of the tooth and the other is done on the inside of it. The long answer is that there are significant details between the two  

Dental terminology can be confusing, and it’s only natural that you wouldn’t know the difference between a root canal and a crown. If you are like most people, you don’t talk about dental care every day, so you really don’t need to know the difference between the various types of dental restorations.  

Understanding the difference between a root canal and a dental crown can help improve the way you communicate with your cosmetic dentist in Charlotte. You may need one of the two procedures (or both!), and knowing the details of root canals and dental crowns can also help you manage your own dental care for a healthier, more appealing smile.  

How are Root Canals and Dental Crowns similar?

It's also important to know the similarities between a root canal and a tooth crown. Perhaps the biggest similarity is that both are often tooth-saving procedures, which means you might lose the tooth if you don’t have something done. Losing a tooth is more than just a cosmetic issue – the loss of just one tooth can prevent you from eating nutritious food. Losing a tooth can also contribute to the loss of bone density and strength in the affected area, which could change the shape of your face and lead to the loss of other teeth.  

Another similarity is that both root canals and dental crowns are relatively complex procedures that only qualified dentists should perform. Sedation dentistry, also known as sleep dentistry, may be performed with either.

Anatomy of a tooth

To understand the difference between a root canal and a dental crown, it is helpful to be familiar with the anatomy of a tooth.

Teeth have two main parts:  

The crown – the white part that you can see above your gumline; it does all the work of biting and grinding the food you eat.

The root – the part you cannot see; it holds your tooth firmly in your jawbone.

Tough enamel covers the crown. Made from hard calcium and other minerals, the enamel is like a coat of armor that protects the inside of the tooth. Just beneath the enamel is the dentin, which is a softer mix of minerals that support the enamel.

Below the dentin is a hollow space, known as the pulp chamber. It contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue, known as pulp. The pulp chamber extends down towards the roots, where it turns into canals, known as root canals.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure in which your dentist removes inflamed or infected material from deep inside a tooth. Root canals are usually done as a last resort to save a badly infected tooth, treat decay deep within a tooth, or problems with a previous filling. Your dentist may also recommend a tooth canal to treat a tooth that has cracked because of an injury or because you inherited weak teeth.

The most important thing to remember about a root canal is that it stops pain and prevents infection from getting worse. Our dentist uses sedation dentistry and anesthesia to keep you comfortable during your root canal.

In a root canal, your dentist makes a small opening in your tooth enamel to gain access to the root canal. Next, your dentist cleans out the pulp and fills the emptied space with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha before sealing the hole with a temporary filling.

What is a Dental Crown?

Shaped like a tooth, a dental crown fits over the top of your teeth. Your dentist may recommend a dental crown to repair a broken, decayed, weakened or worn-down tooth, or a tooth that requires such a large filling that there isn’t enough enamel to hold it. Dental crowns are always used to cover dental implants, which are a type of permanent tooth replacement. Dentists also sometimes use crowns to hold together and protect teeth after a root canal.  

To place a dental crown, your dentist removes some of the tooth enamel to create enough room for the crown. Next, the dentist places the crown and cements it in place.  

Dental crowns in Charlotte may be made from a variety of materials, such as zirconia and ceramic. Zirconia is the most popular material, as a zirconia crown is very durable.  

For more information about root canals, dental crowns in Charlotte, and the differences between the two, consult with the dentists at Skyview Dentistry. Our dentists have the training and experience to provide you with the highest quality root canals and dental crowns in the Charlotte area.


We look forward to meeting you. Call 704.632.7700 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.