Dentist | Endodontics Questions Root Canal

Why do I need a root canal?

My dentist says I need a root canal for two teeth in the back of my mouth. Why can't I get fillings instead? These teeth aren't really causing me any pain.

5 Answers

I would think of a root canal as a routine dental procedure. I would think of it as if you were getting a normal filling that just takes a little longer. However you prepare for a filling is how I would prepare. No special preparation is needed.
Without an exam, no specific advice can be given to you in your situation. However, generally speaking, no one *needs* a root canal. Many options include: no treatment, leaving the decay and cavity and wait for it to blow up with severe pain and swelling (and suffer while you try to figure out what to do), extractions are an option, just filling the tooth with damaged
nerves and again wait for the pain to start or have the root canal, save the tooth and avoid pain and infection.
A root canal is necessary when the nerve in the tooth is damaged to the point when it can longer heal or return to a healthy condition on its own. Pain is not the only criteria that determines that a tooth needs a root canal. Sometimes the nerve can die and there is no pain, but in this situation, a root canal is still necessary in order to return the tooth to a healthy condition.
If your dentist says you need a root canal it means that either the tooth is dead (the nerve and blood vessel to the tooth) and not removing will cause an infection or there is not enough tooth structure to restore the tooth without also doing a root canal and putting essentially an anchor in the tooth to help hold the crown on.
The treatment planning that determines if you need a root canal goes beyond the presence of symptoms. Based on the clinical and radiographic exam, your dentist must feel that you have disease within the inside tissue (dental pulp) requiring that tissue to be removed which is what a root canal procedure does. Dentists do not recommend root canal treatment unless it is necessary so I would recommend proceeding with the treatment. If you question the recommendation then I always would suggest getting a second opinion from another dentist to see if the treatment plan is consistent with both dentists.

Brett E. Gilbert, D.D.S.