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Root Canals

Is a root canal necessary for me?

08/10/2007

Question:

A filling fell out of tooth 20 a week ago. The dentist thought the hold was too deep and refered me to see an Endodontist for Root Canal evaluation. Of course, as I thought, he said it`s necessary.

1. On the x-ray film, I saw a black line (root?) in the other teeth but this one.

2. My tooth is staing there tight and strong and I don`t feel pain or sensitive to heat or cold at all.

This is what I think - if the tooth doesn`t hurt, why destroy the root?

So...is Root Canal really necessary? Or should I just get a crown instead?

Answer:

I cannot tell if you need a root canal by your description, unfortunately. Sometimes the decay within the tooth is so severe that removing it will lead to a pulp exposure. This can occur even if the tooth has not been hurting. There may be an abscess forming that the dentist and endodontist saw on the x-ray. It may be too early for it to hurt or cause any swelling, but still needs to be treated. You take the risk of having the crown placed and skipping the root canal treatment after it is recommended by your dentist and the endodontist. If the tooth begins to give you problems afterward, the crown may need to be redone and at your own expense.

It is a lot easier to do the root canal prior to the placement of a crown when its indicated. If you really are unsure about the need for a root canal - get another exam and opinion. It will make you feel more comfortable with your final treatment decisions.

Root canals do not "destroy roots". The treatment involves cleaning the hollow space that is within the roots of all teeth and then sealing this space. Further information about root canal treatment can be found at www.aae.org.

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Response by:

John M Nusstein, DDS John M Nusstein, DDS
Associate Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University