After root canal treatment, my ear was pulsating. I could not figure out if something I ate caused it or if I had an ear infection. I went to my primary care doctor, who checked and tested my ears and asked several questions. She suggested that I ask my dentist about my root canal and any materials used in my mouth. The dentist confirmed that he placed a stainless-steel dental post in the tooth to strengthen it. I wish he had told me about this beforehand. Now I am worried about removing the post and cracking my tooth. Will I need a dental implant, which is another concern because they are titanium? – Thank you. Robyn from Aurora, CO
We are sorry to hear about your experience and your reaction to the metal post in your tooth. We recommend that you find a dentist who practices biological or holistic dentistry upfront. The new dentist will find alternatives that will not provoke a reaction so that you can get the care you need. We will explain why a dentist might use a post in your tooth and the steps you can take to get the proper care.
Why a Dentist Might Use a Post After Root Canal Treatment
Dentists often place a post in the tooth when little tooth structure remains. Posts have several purposes:
- Strengthen front teeth and premolars against horizontal fracture
- Increase crown retention for molars and other teeth
- Help build up with tooth with a dental composite
Dental post materials
The history of dental posts goes back to the 1970s. Below is the progression of materials used for the posts.
- 1970s – Stainless steel was the primary metal for dental posts.
- 1980s – Researchers discovered that metal ions leach through the tooth into the bloodstream. Stainless steel contains nickel, which commonly provokes reactions. Many practices switched to titanium for its biocompatibility.
- 1990s – Manufacturers developed fiberglass and carbon fiber posts, along with other materials.
- 2000s – Manufactures produced zirconia posts as a biocompatible option. They are ceramic with high flexural strength.
Removing a Stainless-Steel Dental Post
If you need a stainless-steel dental post removed, ensure your dentist has advanced root canal training. Otherwise, see a specialist (endodontist). The post depth and how well your dentist cemented it can make it challenging to remove. You will have the risk of damaging tooth roots, losing the tooth, and requiring extraction and dental implant. Zirconia implants are an alternative to titanium.
Do not allow your dentist to place the final crown on your root canal tooth. It will further complicate matters.
Dr. Siny Thomas, a Sugar Land, Texas cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.