Root Canal or Tooth Filling

How to Know If You Need a Root Canal or Tooth Filling

March 20, 2022

Taking care of your smile is important for your health as well as confidence, and while you may brush and floss as recommended, cavities can occur no matter how hard you try. It is highly common for an average person to have a filling or root canal by the time they turn into an adult. In fact, about 92% of adults in America have had a cavity filled and more than 15 million root canals are performed every year, making it a common occurrence most adults will experience in their lifetime. But how do you know which is right for your situation?

Tooth fillings and root canals can invoke a bit of stress and anxiety for those who aren’t very familiar with either procedure, which can easily be dispelled by learning a little bit about each treatment and meeting with your dentist who can put your mind at ease. This article will go over the difference between the two dental treatments and the symptoms of each so you can better infer which you may need. Your dentist can then corroborate and you will get the care you need faster and you will be less stressed and more informed as well. 

What is a Tooth Filling?

When a cavity leaves a hole in your tooth due to dental decay, tooth fillings are used to repair or restore the tooth. It fills the decayed area in your teeth that your dentist has removed and inserts the filling material to cover and protect the tooth. Fillings can also be used to help repair broken, cracked, or worn down teeth. Dental fillings used to be filled with metals such as silver or mercury, but those have now been replaced with more safe and natural-looking options such as compost resin, which is not only safe but also blends in with your natural teeth.

As long as your cavity hasn’t yet affected the pulp of your tooth, you will be recommended a tooth filling. The same goes for those who have cracked or broken teeth. As long as there is no infection in the root of the tooth, you will be getting a tooth filling. Here are some of the symptoms or issues you can look out for to determine if you need to see your dentist about getting a cavity filled:

  • If you have a broken or cracked tooth
  • If a previous filling has fallen out
  • If your tooth or teeth hurt when you bite down or chew food
  • If your tooth or teeth are sensitive to hot or cold temperatures 
  • If food gets stuck between the same teeth repeatedly
  • If you experience constant throbbing or stabbing pain. This pain may be exacerbated by chewing or biting down as well.
  • If your floss strings stick between teeth.
  • If you see a black or dark spot on your tooth.

What Is a Root Canal?

If the decay in your tooth accelerates and starts to affect the pulp of your tooth, you may need a root canal. The pulp inside of a tooth is made of nerves, blood vessels, and tissue that keep your teeth healthy and when this pulp becomes infected or inflamed, it can become infected. The majority of root canals are from decay in a cavity that has been left untreated for an extended period of time. The root canal procedure removes the infected pulp and reinforces the tooth with a dental crown so the tooth can function properly once more. Root canals are the next step after fillings as they fix what fillings cannot so you do not have to lose your tooth or teeth.

Some symptoms of needing a root canal may mirror a filling, but most likely will be more intense and painful. See your dentist as soon as possible for a checkup if you experience any of the following:

  • Pimples on your gums
  • Severe pain when chewing or biting down
  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold that lasts for a while after eating/drinking
  • Tender or swollen gums
  • Darkening or decaying of the gums
  • Painful gums
  • Dark or discolored teeth

Quality and Compassionate Dental Care

At Carrie Muzny D.D.S., we proudly serve the Woodlands, Benders Landing, Woodforest, Spring, and the Conroe/Montgomery area with cutting-edge techniques and pain-free sedation dental procedures so we can serve clients with top-quality care, comfort, and convenience. 

We are dedicated to you and your family’s dental health and to continual learning, which is exemplified by our broad range of painless and efficient procedures—cosmetic, surgical, or otherwise—that can only be accomplished using the latest technology. Contact us today and let us help you get that perfect smile! We even offer virtual consultations!

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