All kinds of interesting questions come me almost on a daily basis and it is amazing how many repeat themselves over the years. I guess that is why they are called frequently asked questions. A little while ago a patient came in and required a root canal. When I told her she required a root canal treatment she asked me "my friend had a root canal treatment and she said that after the treatment the tooth just fell out. Is that what happens?" I smiled at the patient ( I have heard this question before) and told her that this was not true. I had a root canal in a front tooth of mine when I was about 9 or 10 and it is still there almost 40 years later (yes now you can figure out how old I am). Many times people do not realize that a tooth that has had a root canal must have a filling and crown placed on this tooth. This is because teeth that have root canals are usually broken down or have large fillings to begin with. When the root canal is done even more tooth structure is taken away to do the root canal. So what you are left with is a severely weakened tooth. You must first restore the tooth with a filling and possibly posts and pins, then the tooth must be crowned to hold it all together. This is the case for posterior teeth, front teeth may be different due to the function of these teeth. In any case a tooth that is not properly restored after the rootcanal is in danger of breaking and eventually being extracted. I have seen it happen literally within a week of completing the root canal and we didn't have enough time to place the crown. Those are really sad cases because the patient did not neglect the treatment but just didn't have enough time to finish it. In other cases this may not occur for years but many times a patient will come in saying they have broken a tooth and of course it is a rootcanal tooth that did not have the crown that we recommended. I always tell my patients having root canals on their back teeth that they will need crowns after the root canal treatment.
In short I assured my patient that teeth that have root canals do not just fall out after the treatment!