Tag Archives: root canal vs filling

When is a root canal needed?

I have a tooth with a cavity. Will the tooth need a root canal or not?

Thanks, Heather

Dear Heather,

Just because a tooth has a cavity does not necessarily mean it will need a root canal. When cavities are small most of the time just a filling is needed to repair the tooth. It’s when the decay has reached very close to the nerve of the tooth or has actually penetrated the nerve a root canal is needed.

Signs and Symptoms of a Tooth Needing A Root Canal May Be:

  • Has a dull or sharp ache. May wake you up in the middle of the night
  • Sensitive to hot and cold temperatures
  • Pressure sensitive, hurts to chew on
  • An x-ray shows in abscess at the tip of the root
  • There is a bump on the gum above the tooth

We recommend you visit your dentist who will most likely take an x-ray to determine whether or not the tooth has an infection. If there is no infection and the cavity is small a filling will be recommended, however it the cavity is large and there is no sign of infection a porcelain crown may be recommend because a large filling could cause the tooth to break. If there is an infection, you will more than likely need a root canal as well as a porcelain crown to protect the tooth from breakage once the root canal is completed.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland implant dentist Hylan Dental Care.