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Dentistry/Is a root canal always required for tooth pain?


I have a cavity and it does not look that major (even on x-ray). I do have occasional sensitivity, mainly from cold food/drink. Does this mean it needs a root canal? I am currently shopping around for a new dental office as I'm not pleased with the office I have been seeing after relocating. If it sounds like I am a candidate for a root canal, then I would lean towards selecting an office that has an endodontist on hand.

Thank you in advance!

Hi Tonya,

I'm sorry you're having this go on. Having temperature sensitivity, especially cold does not mean you need a root canal. Cold sensitivity means the pulp (nerve) is still alive, but irritated, and if the decay is removed and is not too deep, the pulp may be able to heal itself. The sooner this is taken care of, the better the chance of avoiding a root canal. When a tooth stops feeling cold, that is our best test to see if the pulp has died.

Hope this helps.

Have a Happy New Year!

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD


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Gary Backlund, DMD, MSD


I am an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) and can answer questions about root canals and their treatment. I cannot diagnose or treat online, but can answer general questions. I have been a specialist for 25 years and am Past President of the Washington State Association of Endodontists.


25 years practicing as a specialist

American Association of Endodonists, Past President Washington State Association of Endodontists.

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