Root Canal or Filling? How Dentists Determine Which Treatment to Recommend
Cavities can be fixed one of two ways: basic dental fillings or a root canal. Learn how dentists determine what type of dental treatment is needed when a patient needs to have a cavity fixed.
Location of the Cavity Determines Treatment
Location of the cavity is the biggest factor a dentist will consider when assessing which type of dental treatment to recommend. If the decay that is causing the cavity is only located on the surface of the tooth, a dental filling is typically all that will be needed. However, if the decay has destroyed the surface of the tooth and reached the root of the tooth a root canal is needed.
Why is a Root Canal Needed if the Cavity or Decay is Close to the Root?
When a cavity has reached close to the root of the tooth, a root canal is needed to not only remove the tooth decay but to fight any infection that may have formed and prevent future infections. While a filling will remove the decay, it doesn’t provide the protection against future infections that is needed.
How Do Dentists Determine if a Root Canal is Needed?
There are very specific things a dentist is looking for when trying to determine if a cavity needs a filling or a root canal. A dentist will determine if a root canal is needed is by doing the following:
- Looking at x-rays to see how deep the cavity is or how close it is to the root
- Looking for exposed nerves
- Tapping the problem tooth to see if there is any pain
- Conducting electric or thermal testing
The only way for a dentist to really determine if a root canal is needed is to conduct an examination. If you are experiencing a toothache or believe you have a cavity, call Chehalis Dental Care to schedule an appointment for a routine examination. During the examination, our dentist will be able to provide you with recommendations for how to properly treat your cavity.