Call our office today to schedule your appointment!

When is a Root Canal Needed?

October 11, 2021
When is a Root Canal Needed?

Endodontic treatment is needed when the pulp tissue inside a tooth becomes inflamed or infected. The pulp is removed, then the tooth chamber and roots are cleaned, disinfected, and filled with a material called gutta percha. Commonly referred to as root canal treatment, endodontic treatment preserves your natural tooth, preventing the need for extraction. Here are some of the most common reasons people need root canal treatment.

Deep Decay

When identified early, tooth decay can be treated with a dental filling by a general dentist. If a cavity progresses and compromises more of the tooth structure, it may require a dental crown, inlay, or onlay. When the decay has reached the pulp of your tooth, endodontic treatment is needed.

As a result of deep decay, the pulp inside the tooth becomes infected or inflamed. You're likely to experience discomfort when you chew or bite down on foods, as well as painful sensitivity to hot and cold. Swollen or discolored gums, as well as a small white pimple-like bump on the gum tissue near your painful tooth, are additional symptoms to be aware of. All of these symptoms suggest that your tooth is infected and that it needs endodontic treatment to be saved.

Faulty Crown

Dental crowns are typically used to replace tooth structure that has been removed due to tooth decay or to secure a dental bridge. When a crown doesn't fit properly or becomes damaged, bacteria can seep inside and cause decay to the remaining tooth structure. Root canal treatment will be required to treat this decay if it is deep and reaches the pulp.

The crown on your tooth will be removed, and the remaining tooth structure underneath will be opened to gain access to the pulp. Because your original crown was faulty, you will likely require a new crown, which will be fabricated and placed by your general dentist or a prosthodontist, a dental specialist who focuses on restorative dentistry.

Dental Trauma

Some dental trauma is obvious—for example, if you fall and break a tooth or if you are involved in a car accident and a tooth is knocked out. Other times, you may bite down on something hard and not realize you've fractured a tooth for several weeks. Because cracks aren't always visible to the naked eye, they can go undetected until the pulp becomes irritated or infected, causing pain.

There are many different types of dental injuries, but all of them require root canal treatment or extraction if they reach the pulp. Because endodontic treatment allows us to save your natural tooth, it is the preferred treatment option. There are situations, however, when a fracture extends below the gum line and extraction is the only treatment option.

If you have a choice between an extraction and root canal treatment, we strongly advise you to save your natural tooth and pursue root canal therapy. After an extraction, you'll need to replace your lost tooth, which can be expensive, time-consuming, and risk complications. Bridges can break, and dental implants might fail, but your natural tooth is more likely to last a lifetime.

Repeated Dental Procedures

If you've had to have multiple dental treatments on a single tooth, the pulp could become irritated and inflamed. When this happens, the tooth will either need to be extracted or root canal treatment will be required to save it.

Learn More About Root Canal Treatment

Do you have questions about getting a root canal? Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment with one of our endodontists.

Recent Posts


Welcome to North Shore & Brookline Endodontics! Service is at the core of everything we do. Our Greater Boston dental team work together to provide a warm, comfortable and relaxing environment.

Contact Us