Finding out that you have tooth decay can feel stressful. Do you need a simple filling or do you need a root canal? It can be helpful to know what steps are next and who to go to for answers to the questions you have. Here’s what you should know about tooth decay and how an endodontist can help.

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is what happens when the enamel (or outer layer of a tooth) is eroded, leading to the formation of a hole in the surface. Over time, the hole allows the innermost layer of the tooth (also known as root or pulp) to be exposed to temperature changes, bacteria, and other irritants.

Many things can lead to tooth decay, such as bacteria in the mouth, sugary drinks or foods, a buildup of bacteria-containing plaque, or not brushing after meals.

If you have a tooth that is experiencing tooth decay, it’s important to get it treated as soon as possible to avoid the spread of infection or more serious conditions from developing.

What’s the Difference Between a Filling and a Root Canal?

Now that you know what tooth decay is, you’re probably wondering, do you need a root canal or just a filling?

The difference between a root canal and a filling is that each treatment option is designed to address a different degree of damage from tooth decay. A filling typically treats damage that is confined to the surface of your tooth. With a root canal, the deeper parts of your tooth are treated and then sealed from future decay and damage.

When to Call an Endodontist

Only a dental professional can answer whether you need a simple filling or a root canal procedure. If you’re experiencing symptoms of tooth decay, such as increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, discomfort when chewing or biting down, persistent tooth discomfort, or discoloration of a tooth, you should make an appointment right away. If you’re wondering, “Do you need a root canal?” it’s a good idea to call an endodontist to find out what’s going on.

Endodontists are specialist dentists who have spent extra years studying how to diagnose and treat issues involving the root of the tooth. If your tooth requires a root canal, you want the specialized level of care and experience that an endodontist can provide to ensure your comfort and the best possible outcome for your tooth.

Call our Lee's Summit dental office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.