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Dentistry/Root canals, extractions and more


A couple weeks later, after several consultations with the oral surgeon and still having pain, I returned citing problems which had developed in response to hot and cold liquids. I thought at the time it was the extraction site, but after referring me to her endodontist and a cold/hot test, he indicated that I needed a root canal on this farthermost molar.
I returned to Dr. X who I had seen originally and who had performed the filling, because the endodontist suggested it was likely a cause of the filling. She looked at the xray and, truthfully, the filling was very shallow and not close to the root. It then occurred to her that I might grind my teeth Ė and in the process have harmed the nerve, requiring a root canal on that tooth. Moreover, I am also experiencing sensitivity on the tooth to the right of #36, and on a tooth above which had a deep filling done about a year ago.
I am waiting to go to a sleep lab to see if I have sleep apnea before they perform a root canal. However, as you can imagine, I am very frustrated and confused.
1)   Does it make sense that the nerve could be permanently damaged simply from grinding?
2)   What steps can I take to ensure that the other teeth in the area donít require root canals?
3)   The dentist told me that the root canal is only imminent because of the pain. However, I am now terrified of a tooth extraction and wondering if there reaches a point where the root canal could lead to requiring an extraction, or am I good to wait and see if the nerve settles down (as she suggested)?
Any advice you can provide would be most appreciated.

Dear Nathaniel,

I will answer your questions to the best of my ability based solely on your story:

1. Yes

2. You can never ensure that teeth will not need root canals, as there are many causes of nerve damage inside teeth.  To name just a few:  Deep decay, fracture, clenching, occlusal interferences, trauma, retrograde infection.  If you do clench your teeth, then you should have your dentist make you a biteguard to protect your teeth from your clenching them.

3. It is possible that the inflammation in the nerve inside your tooth could settle down.  Having this tooth adjusted so that it does not contact when you clench should help it to happen.  Wearing a biteguard will help.  In general, it is rarely too late to have a root calm down.  What you are experiencing is inflammation in a live nerve.  If the inflammation goes away by itself, you will not need a root canal.  If the pain gets worse, a root canal can be done at that time, without increasing the risk of tooth loss.

So adjust the tooth out of your bite and get a biteguard.


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Howard Finnk, D.D.S., P.A., CEO


I am a Family, Implant and Cosmetic dentist. I will answer questions on any aspect of dentistry and matters relating to the smile, gums, jaws and lower face. Member American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, and Atlantic Coast District Dental Association. I have served as District Council Member of Alpha Omega, as well as serving for one term as its President. I am also a member of The Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, and Mount Sinai Hospital Guild. I have served as a Volunteer for Project Dental Health and The Tri-County Dental Health Council.


Having attained over 30 years of clinical experience in private practice in Michigan, in 2001 I was re-certified by taking and passing the Florida State Dental Board Examination. After moving to Florida, I spent nearly 10 years re-honing my skills while working as an Associate Dentist for several large dental groups. In September, 2004, I was appointed Adjunct Clinical Professor at Nova University's College of Dental Medicine. I am certified in placement of Mini Dental Implants, and I am Director of The Florida Implant Center ( On March 1, 2010, at the age of 62, I began all over again by buying a dental practice near my home in the Fort Lauderdale area. As sole owner and Chief Dental Officer of the new Nob Hill Dental Center (, I can now carefully provide dental care to patients who care, all within a caring, joyful environment. Over my career lifetime, I have provided thousands of diagnoses, fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, periodontal treatments, TMJ therapies, partials, dentures and extractions, and dozens of implants for my patients. The only aspect of dentistry with which I have very little experience is orthodontics.

American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, Atlantic Coast District Dental Society, Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, Alpha Omega Alumni Association, and American Association of Dental Implantologists. Formerly, American Academy of General Dentistry, Michigan Dental Association, Macomb Dental Society, Detroit District Dental Society, Tri-County Dental Health Council (a charitable dental care organization)

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Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Psychology from Wayne State University Doctor of Dental Surgery from University of Detroit College of Dentistry Adjunct Clinical Professor, Special Needs Department, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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