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Dentistry/Potential root canal?


I had braces for 4 years and I got them taken off in March. Recently I noticed 2 brown spots on the molar that was surrounded by metal for the braces the entire 4 years. They're visible to the eye right away without having to search for them if I open my mouth. I decided to stick a toothpick in one of the holes on the side today and I was able to shove it in a good millimetre or so. When it stopped going further I noticed sensitivity when I continued to probe it. Does this sound like something I would need a root canal for? Also, if it does, is it even possible because these holes are on the sides of my molar rather than the top of it.

Thank you Meghan for the question.
As I state with every question, without a thorough clinical and radiographic examination a precise diagnosis and treatment plan are impossible.
However, based on your description you have a very common problem of decay ( brown spots with probable holes) in the buccal cheek side of the tooth. When you insert the toothpick in you penetrated the dentin tissue under the enamel. This tissue is porous and contains many small tubules that lead into the pulp tissue where the nerves and blood vessels are located.Bacteria and its byproducts seep down these tubules and cause sensitivity and eventually destroy the pulp chamber and its contents.When this destruction occurs the damage spreads throughout the root canal system.
The most important thing you can do is immediately go to a dentist and see if removing this decay and placing a restoration will relieve your sensitivity. However, if the decay is too deep and hot and cold sensitivity linger, you may need to have a root canal performed. If the tooth is tender to bite on you may already have sufficient damage in the roots that inflammation is starting to occur in the surrounding bone. Before the dentist
does a restoration, endodontic tests need to be performed. Of course this includes a full clinical and radiographic examination.
Depending on the results of the diagnostic testing, clinical evaluation snd xray review,
a diagnosis and treatment plan can be formulated.
Perhaps you will only need a simple restoration, but depending on the exact tests results a root canal could be needed.
I hope this explains your options, whatever you do, you should seek out dental care immediately. Good luck. I hope everything works out for you.



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robert block


I would prefer to answer questions related in my specialty of Endodontics( ROOT CANAL THERAPY) I am a Board Certified Endodontist with a special interest in advanced surgical endodontic procedures. I know root canals create a lot of apprehension in patients, and they usually have many questions about the procedure. I can address patient concerns either before or after their root canal treatment. I also have re-treated numerous patients who have had previous endodontic treatment. As a result of these clinical failures,and the increase in the use of dental implants, its important patients understand the alternatives of therapy. There are often many components to treatment that interrelate the disciplines of endodontics, periodontics and restorative dentistry.Patients frequently question the importance of considering all facets in a clinical regimen. Hopefully, I would be able to educate and contribute some information from the endodontic perspective.


Diplomate American Board of Endodontics, 35 years plus private practice experience. Formerly Professor and Chairman, Department of Endodontics at US dental school. Editorial journal reviewer for the endodontic section of The Journal of American Dental Association. Serve as a reviewer on several editorial boards.

American Association of Endodontists, College of Diplomates, American Board of Endodontics

Over 150 publications, abstracts, case reports, chapters in textbooks. J. Dental Research, J. of Endodontics, J. of Oral Surgery Oral Medicine Oral Pathology,The NEXTDDS J.For example: The Single File Approach for Predictable Endodontic Canal Instrumentation:The Wave One, THE NEXTDDS J. 4-2:13-17 Fall 2014 Non Surgical Management of an Endodontic Failure Utilizing Contemporary Technology, www.THENEXTDDS 5-1:60-63 Spring 2015 Are You Still Using Formocresol? An Update, Tn. Dent. J. 89-4:14-19 Fall 2009 Management of Endodontic Failures, Oral Surg.vol.66:711-Dec.1988

BA. DePauw University, DDS. University of Michigan, MS. Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Gen. Practice Resident, University of Connecticut, Endodontic Resident Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University

Awards and Honors
Numerous Awards and Honors, Edward P. Hatton Award( Int. Assoc. of Dental Research), Endodontic Memorial Research Award ( American Association of Endodontics) Outstanding Endodontic Department Teaching Award (given by dental students)Fellow American Academy of Dental Science

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