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Root Canal vs. Filling: Which Does Your Tooth Need?

Root canal therapy dental filling Southgate MI dentistsWhen something feels off tooth-wise, it’s natural to want to know exactly what’s wrong right away. Oftentimes, treatment can be boiled down to two options: root canal therapy or a dental filling. Though either scenario requires further examination from our Southgate, MI, dentists, both are straightforward treatments designed to restore your smile.

Here are details surrounding the procedures and symptoms that can lead our team to suggest one over the other.

What Are Your Symptoms?

Sensitivity and pain in your teeth can all seem the same when it’s happening. It can be difficult to tell based on a sudden sensation whether you need one procedure or another. To make things even more complicated, sometimes there is no pain at all.

Because a root canal procedure is often needed for deep infection or damage involving the tooth’s pulp, the pain that arises before treatment tends to be more intense. Pulp is the soft inner tissue of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels. When your tooth is injured or has decay, the pulp can become exposed and at risk for issues.

Root canal therapy may be needed if you have:

  • Severe tooth pain when chewing or applying any pressure to the area
  • Noticeable sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures during exposure and long after the source (i.e., food or beverage) is gone
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Gum swelling and tenderness
  • A pimple-like swelling on the gums

Cavities, on the other hand, can result in varying degrees of discomfort and ultimately depend on the size and location. You may not notice a small enough cavity but once it has time to progress, it can show itself in more ways than one.

Common signs that a cavity may require a filling include:

  • Lingeringtooth sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweets
  • An ongoing toothache that can occur at random times or after eating
  • Brown, black, or white stains on the surface of a tooth
  • A visible hole or pit in your tooth

The symptoms of both conditions can overlap which is why our dentists recommend swift examination and treatment. In fact, an untreated cavity can end up turning into a need for root canal therapy. If you’re experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above, please give our Southgate, MI, dental office a call and we’ll determine the best course of action.

But First, Examination Time 

Anytime you think something is wrong with your teeth or gums, we urge you to visit our office as soon as possible to have an oral examination performed by one of our dentists.

Depending on the state of your tooth, we may also take some X-rays to see how far down the problem goes or how much it has spread. X-rays are a great way to painlessly uncover hidden issues that otherwise may not appear to the naked eye.

Once the underlying cause of your dental pain is found, we can move forward with appropriate forms of treatment such as root canal therapy or a filling.

An Overview of Each Procedure

If it turns out that you require only a tooth-colored filling, our dentists will start by numbing the tooth and surrounding area with a local anesthetic. We’ll then drill into the tooth and remove any decay present before cleaning and drying the area.

Next, we will etch and bond the tooth to further prepare it for the incoming filling before layering the composite material into the hole in your tooth and hardening it with a special light. Some shaping, contouring, and polishing will be done before your bite is checked and you’re sent on your way.

For the root canal procedure, a local anesthetic will be administered to ensure you feel no pain. A rubber dam is then placed around the tooth in need to keep the area dry and free of saliva. Next, we’ll make a small access hole on the tooth’s surface to allow for the removal of any diseased or dead pulp tissue.

The inside of the root canal will also be cleaned, shaped, and decontaminated using tools and irrigation solutions. A rubber-like material and an adhesive cement are used to seal up the canals.

Our dentists will let you know if your tooth requires adental crown for added protection. The placement is not always necessary but can be due to the fragility of a tooth without pulp.

Make an Appointment

In situations where there is noticeable tooth pain, it’s best to face it head on and seek care from our dentists serving Southgate and Greater Detroit, MI. Call Northline Dental today at (734) 284-8088 to request an appointment.