Dentist Questions Root Canal

Can an x-ray show if you need a root canal?

My doctor suggested me to have an x-ray scan so he can see if I need a root canal, but we didn't have time to do it in the same appointment. Can an xray show if you need a root canal?

10 Answers


Yes, x-rays are very useful and can show up if you need a root canal. Thank you for your question.
Not always. Sometimes in the early stages of nerve degeneration, it does not show on an X-ray.
An X-ray alone may or may not determine if you need a root canal. You should make an appointment with your dentist for the X-rays and a complete examination including pulp testing to determine if you need a root canal.
If the nerve or pulp of a tooth has been unhealthy for over a month, "stuff" (a technical term) leaks out of the tip of the root and starts to eat away the jaw bone. A black space by the tip of the root indicates missing bone. Early in the course of an abscess, before the "black hole" shows up, looking VERY closely at the X-ray, a very thin white line just outside the entire surface of the root may "disappear" at the tip of the root. So, yes, X-rays can show that a root canal is needed.

Brenda Berkal, DMD
Yes. It will show an abscess or infection on the X-ray by way of a shadow.
The answer is sometimes. If it tooth has a radiographic area on the x-ray that can be visualized by the dentist this indicates it will need a root canal.A new three dimensional x-ray which your dentist may be doing called a CBCT will better be able to see a change around the root of the tooth. However many teeth especially early onset root canal teeth will not show any radiographic evidence. So the dentist has to utilize other tests by cold and hot sensitivity and sensitivity to biting pressure and pulp testing to see if a tooth is in need of a Root canal

Best Regards,
Dr. Mark Berkowitz
Imaging is one of several diagnostic tools to assist the doctor in making a proper diagnosis. It may also help determine treatment options.
In some cases, an X-ray is critical to diagnosing if a root canal is needed. In other cases, the X-ray is not as essential in making the diagnosis. I would suggest following up with your dentist to get the images that are needed for them to make a diagnosis for your tooth which will determine the treatment options that are recommended.

Brett E. Gilbert, D.D.S.
Sometimes an X-ray can show if you might need root canal therapy, but not always. To diagnose and determine if root canal treatment is appropriate, you would need a proper exam of the tooth in question, including X-ray, visual inspection, testing the nerves, and evaluating its history and past and current symptoms. The X-rays are important, but not the sole criteria. It is like a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces that have to come together before you can see the picture. Like a jigsaw puzzle with some pieces missing, you may be able to identify it, but it isn't as easy or as pretty. The X-ray may help confirm if you need root canal therapy and it is important for your dentist to know what to expect when he treats it.
An X-ray can show if a root canal is required by showing if an infection is present in the bone surrounding the tooth. This can not be detected clinically in sometimes And radiographic examination is required.