Having a cavity can be stressful enough as it is without worrying about a root canal. Some
cavities are easily remedied with fillings while others will require root canal therapy. How do
you know which one you’ll need?
Although your dentist is the best person to evaluate your smile for treatment, let’s talk about
whether your cavity will need just a filling or if a root canal would be your best form of care.
When a Filling Is All That’s Needed
If your tooth isn’t discolored and you’re only experiencing minor pain or sensitivity, your dentist
may be able to repair the tooth with a simple filling.
When tooth decay happens, bacteria eat through the first layer of your teeth, the enamel. The
decay may progress to the second, softer layer, the dentin, and results in a cavity. If your cavity
has not progressed to the third layer of the tooth—the nerve tissue—a filling should suffice.
Getting a filling is a relatively simple procedure and you and your dentist can talk about what
filling material would suit you best. Although your filling will need to be replaced at some point
in your life, it shouldn’t get worse with the proper home care and dentist visits!
When Root Canal Therapy Could Help
Some people may have cavities that are beyond repair or be experiencing other symptoms that
will result in the need for a root canal. For instance, if your cavity is large enough or deep
enough that it would be impossible for a filling to repair your tooth, root canal therapy may be
the most appropriate form of treatment.
If your tooth is discolored in any way, such as having a brown or yellow hue that’s noticeably
different from the other teeth, the nerve tissue inside your tooth may be dead. In this case, a
root canal is the best treatment. If you’re experiencing severe tooth sensitivity or pain, you may
need a root canal.
Fortunately, a root canal isn’t much different from getting a filling these days. Technology has
made it possible for your root canal to be performed with no pain and you’ll be able to save
your natural tooth!
Which Do You Need?
If your cavity is a relatively normal size and not accompanied by discoloration, pain, or
sensitivity, you may just need a filling. However, if your cavity is large, has cracked your tooth,
or is causing you pain and sensitivity, your dentist may recommend root canal therapy to save
Whether you need a filling or a root canal, you’ll still be able to save your natural tooth, which
is the most important thing. When you can keep your natural tooth, you’re saving a part of your
smile that would otherwise need to be replaced with a cosmetic dentistry option!
If you’re seeing evidence of a cavity, don’t delay in making an appointment with your dentist.
Prompt treatment can prevent your cavity from turning into a problem that needs root canal
therapy to fix!