How Do I know If I Need A Root Canal Or A Filling?
If you are reading this you probably have pain in a tooth and you might be wondering if you need a root canal or a filling. Filling and root canal are two terms that seem very similar. They both involve a hole in the tooth and decay, for example. These are two important but different procedures and based on your checkup the dentist will decide which is right for you. That being said learning more about each can help you get an idea of what to expect when it is time for the procedure deemed right for your situation.
What is a Filling?
Cavity fillings, or just fillings, involves applying a composite resign, silver or gold sometimes to a hole in the surface enamel of the tooth. The hole typically comes from decay, the effect of plaque building up on the enamel and breaking it down until a hole forms. It takes just a few minutes to fill a cavity and getting the filling can protect the rest of the tooth from further damage that requires a root canal treatment. During this procedure, the dentist will numb the gum around the tooth. Once the decay is out, the filling is put in place to restore the tooth.
What is Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal is a space inside the tooth, referred to as the pulp chamber. The goal of a root canal treatment is to remove the pulp and nerve of the tooth. Microbes can invade this area, sometimes through an untreated cavity, causing an often painful infection. After emptying the pulp chamber, the dentist can clean out the infection to keep it from spreading further.
A root canal treatment is more complex than a simple filling. It can also require repeat visits to the dentist. It starts with an x-ray to see the extent of the infection and the shape of the tooth. The dentist may opt to use local anesthesia to numb the area then a rubber dam is put in place to prevent moisture around the tooth.
Drilling a hole in the top of the tooth opens it up, allowing the dentist to clean the pulp, debris, and bacteria out. The full length of the tooth is scrubbed using special files, as well. The next step depends on the dentist and the health of the tooth. It may be necessary to put medicine in the tooth canal for a week or longer to eliminate the infection. Once clean, a sealant closes the tooth and it is topped with a filling.
How to Know If You Need a Root Canal or a Filling Treatment?
The most obvious sign is pain that does not go away. Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong with the tooth. Pain can occur whether you have a cavity or deeper decay, but it will be more intense when the root canal has an infection that is reaching the nerve.
You may also feel sensitivity to heat and cold when you drink fluids or breath through your mouth. A tooth that breaks or chips easily when you eat hard food like an apple may be weak from deep decay, as well.
There may be no warning signs at all for both a cavity or root canal infection. This is one reason it is so important to see your dentist every six months. If you are having pain in one or more of your teeth and need to see a dentist in Portland feel free to set an appointment with one of our many locations in and around the metro so that the TenderCare Dental team can help you get pain free and back to normal.