Despite advances in dental hygiene and dental care in recent decades, tooth decay remains a health issue for many children and adults. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to more serious oral health problems including abscesses in gums and falling out teeth. That is why it is important to visit your dentist at least twice yearly so that they can check for signs of tooth decay and other dental health problems.
What is a Tooth Filling?
If your dentist just told you that you need a filling, you are not alone. Most of the population will need at least one filling within their lifetime. But, what exactly does that mean, and what is a tooth filling? A filling is a dental treatment for a tooth damaged by decay that restores it back to normal function and shape while preventing further decay. It’s also one of the most common procedures that take place in the dental office, so there’s no need to worry, especially if you are maintaining a good brushing and flossing routine!
What is a Root Canal?
Your teeth by all intents and purposes should last you a lifetime. If a tooth has become diseased or injured, oftentimes it can be saved through root canal therapy.
Though your tooth may look as though it is one solid piece of enamel, it has many layers. The two main parts of your tooth are the crown and the root. The crown is the visible part of the tooth above the gum line. The root is the part of the tooth below the gum line in the jaw bone.
Inside of the crown is the pulp chamber, which continues down toward the tip of the root in what is called the root canal. In each root, there can be one or more root canals present. The root canals contain the dental pulp, which is made up of nerves and blood vessels and extends all the way to the tip of each root. When the pulp tissue has become infected, inflamed, or rotted, treatment is needed. Root canal treatment removes the decayed dental pulp from the canal.
Do I Need a Root Canal Or Dental Filling?
You may be wondering if you need a root canal or just a tooth filling. While only a skilled dentist can tell you for sure, here are some things to consider.
- A tooth filling may be recommended by our doctor if your tooth has a smaller cavity or minor tooth decay that hasn’t reached the pulp of the tooth. If you have a fractured tooth and your root isn’t infected, then your dentist may be able to save your tooth with a filling, as well. During the treatment, your dentist will clean out any decay and then fill the hole or crack with tooth-colored composite resin so the cavity or crack won’t lead to bigger dental problems later.
- A root canal or endodontic therapy may be needed if you have a severely decayed or damaged tooth that has reached the tooth pulp and caused an infection. Untreated cavities and cracks in your teeth can often lead to tooth infections that warrant root canal therapy. During the root canal treatment, our dentist will save your natural tooth by removing the damaged pulp to relieve you of pain, infection, and inflammation. Afterward, a dental crown may be recommended to be placed on top to restore full tooth functionality.
It’s an important point to remember that you may still need a root canal or tooth filling even if your tooth isn’t currently in any pain. If your dentist recommends a filling or root canal treatment, it’s important to move forward with your individualized treatment plan, even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms at all.
How Long Will a Tooth Filling or Root Canal Last?
Your restored tooth after root canal therapy should last you a lifetime if you continue to care for your teeth and gums. Regular checkups will also be necessary. As long as the root of a treated tooth is nourished by the tissues around it, your tooth will remain healthy long into old age.
Typically, tooth fillings should last around 10-15 years. Many dental fillings will last much longer than that with good oral hygiene and regular checkups.
Are You Concerned About Dental Treatment?
Both dental fillings and root canals are used to treat decayed teeth. Although some discomfort may result from the treatment, it would be better to address the matter as soon as possible before the damage causes additional problems. At Hillside Dental in El Paso, TX, we offer options, such as oral conscious sedation, to help you feel comfortable during treatment.
If you are still wondering which treatment is the best option for you, our staff will be happy to discuss everything that goes on with your dental treatment. During your consultation, our staff will also give you helpful guidelines and instructions for aftercare to make sure the area heals properly afterward.
Schedule a Dental Appointment Today!
Schedule an appointment at our El Paso dental office today! Give us a call at 915-500-3643 or visit our Contact Us page to send us an email. Our great staff can answer any questions you have about dental procedures or financial options available to all our patients in West Texas and Southern New Mexico.