Category Archives: root canal treatment

Is a filling the same as a root canal?

My dentist said I have a cavity and need a filling. I’ve never had one. Is that the same as a root canal? I’ve heard they are painful.

Lizzie G.- St. Paul, Minnesota


No, a root canal and a filling are two different things. With a filling your dentist will remove the decay from your tooth and fill it with a type of material, either an amalgam (silver) filling or a composite (white) filling. The composite fillings are a little better for your teeth, but if your dentist isn’t comfortable with them, don’t push it.  It means he doesn’t have significant training with that type of filling. If they’re not bonded on properly, it can cause more problems.

A root canal is when your cavity has resulted in an infection. In those cases your dentist will have to remove the materials from the canals of your teeth and fill them with a replacement. You generally will need a dental crown when the procedure is completed.

Though root canals have a bad reputation, they are not nearly as bad as getting a tooth extracted. In fact, in many cases they are painless.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette Dentist Dr. John Theriot.

Confused about what to do

I am pregnant (yay!), but now I need some advice. I went to my dentist to get a thorough cleaning so I could feel tip top about everything going into my pregnancy. He told me he found a small cavity. He said it was small enough to do without Novocaine. I didn’t mind that because I was pregnant. He filled it and said it was a little larger than he expected but he thinks he got all of it.  Right after that I started getting sensitive to cold. I went back and he said I need a root canal. I am leary of doing that so far into my pregnancy. What do you think I should do?

Carlee- San Antonio, TX


I’m not comfortable with how your treatment has gone. First, you almost always give a local anesthetic because there is no way of knowing how deep the infection has gone. Secondly, if you needed a root canal that soon after treatment then the cavity must have been large and he should have noticed that. I really recommend you get a second opinion.  There are other reasons for a for cold sensitivity, so you want to eliminate those as well.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette Dentist Dr. John Theriot.

Sensitivity to cold after a root canal

I had a root canal done and everything was fine. Recently it has become sensitive to cold. Do you know what that means?

Amber A.- Las Vegas


If you’ve had a root canal that has become sensitive to cold, it generally means that you had a canal your dentist hasn’t located yet. That is not that unusal. It’s pretty tricky finding all those canals. Call your dentist and have him go back in and check it out.  If he or she charges by the tooth, then there will be no extra charge. If they charge by the canal, they’ll be a slight fee.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette Dentist Dr. John Theriot.

Trying to save my wife’s tooth

My wife had a root canal treatment several months back. It is now abscessed and our dentist wants to extract it. The soonest appointment they have for her is over seven weeks away. She is in a tremendous amount of pain. They’ve given her no pain medication or antibiotics. She was taking over 12 advils a day. Finally one of my friends who had recently had surgery, but didn’t need his pain meds gave them to her. It is providing some relief, but not enough. I’m frustrated with how little concern my dentist is showing for her well being. Plus, they seem to be taking no pains to save her tooth. Isn’t there something aside from extraction that can be done? I realize I’m not a dentist, but I do care about my wife and want to see her healthy again.

Brandon S.- Louisianna


I understand your care for your wife and share some of your misgivings about her treatment. With her appointment being so far off, given the conditions you’ve described, I think this dental office is just too busy to adequately care for the number of patients they currently have. I recommend seeking a second opinion.

Secondly, there are some other options for your wife. Though I haven’t examined her, it appears she has a failed root canal treatment. Even treatments correctly done, can sometimes fail, so I am not putting your dentist at fault for that. I am concerned that you haven’t been given any options aside from extraction. There is the opportunity for your dentist (or another one) to go back in and re-treat the root canal. There is also the option of root canal surgery.

I’d get in with a dentist that can see you right away. You may even call an emergency dentist that treats non-established patients. They can at least get her out of pain that day, and then set an additional appointment to do whatever further treatment is required.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette Dentist John Theriot.

What is the best antibiotic for a tooth infection?

I think I have a tooth infection because I had a toothache that lasted for about a week or so. Then a few days ago, my face began to swell. I am afraid to go to the dentist. Also, I really shouldn’t take off time at work and I don’t know if I could afford it. Can you recommend an antibiotic that will take care of the infection until I can get in for an appointment?

– Rachel in California


You should not be using an antibiotic as a substitute of seeking dental treatment. This is because an antibiotic needs to be used together with treatment because an antibiotic alone will not take care of the problem.

A typical tooth infection takes place on the inside of a tooth. The infection causes the tissue inside the tooth to die. When you take an antibiotic, it will circulate throughout your bloodstream. So if the tooth is dead inside, the blood will not circulate there. Therefore, the antibiotic will not do much. And even if the tooth isn’t actually dead inside, there is no room for the infection to go. So when swelling occurs in your tooth it will spread into an abscess.

A root canal treatment will take care of the infection inside your tooth. But antibiotics alone will never fully eliminate the infection. It may temporarily treat it and that is why it is important to seek treatment that addresses the cause of the infection during that time. If you only take the antibiotic, you are actually creating bacteria that are resistant to the infection. This is a dangerous situation. Because when you finally make it into the dentist, the bacteria may be totally resistant to antibiotics and a tooth infection always runs the chance of spreading into your throat or brain. You don’t want to delay the treatment of a tooth infection, it can result in very serious consequences.

If your finances are holding you back, make some calls around. There are many affordable, emergency dentists around that would help with an urgent situation like you have. They may even be able to work with you on setting up a payment plan. But you need to have this taken care of sooner than later. And if you are scared of the dentist, look for a dentist that offers sedation dentistry. Sedation is safe, simple, and you may not even remember the appointment.

This post is sponsored by Lafayette dentist Theriot Family Dental Care.

Can a tooth be saved from root resorption?


It has been a long time since I visited the dentist. In fact, it has probably been five years now or so. Although, two years ago I had some x-rays done and the dentist made a treatment plan. I just didn’t trust his recommendations and frankly couldn’t afford it. So when I went back to the dentist this month I anticipated there to be a lot of problems. The dentist filled a couple of cavities and then while trying to do a root canal treatment on one of my upper molars, he said I had root resorption. Apparently this wasn’t visible from the x-ray. He had originally thought that I just had a cavity located very close to the root. He says the tooth cannot be saved. Then, he is recommending a tooth extraction and having a dental implant placed.

Do you know if it was absolutely necessary to have the tooth pulled? Or was the endodontist forced to pull it because the root canal treatment was already in progress?

– Sandy from Washington


With root resorption, it all depends on where it is located. If it was at the end of the root, then it may have been caused from an infection. In this case it may have still been possible to salvage the tooth. Although, from what you have described it sounds like the resorption was located on the side of the root. If this was indeed the case, then the tooth would need to be extracted because there really is not a way to treat it effectively.

This post is sponsored by Lafayette dentist Theriot Family Dental Care.

Should I cancel my crown if my root canal still hurts?


I had a root canal treatment done three weeks ago. Everything seemed to go okay when I was in the first time, but then the dentist scheduled me for a second appointment since a fourth canal was suspected. Apparently the fourth canal was found and while performing the endodontic treatment a crack was found in my tooth. After the appointment I had a lot of pain and some swelling. As time passed the swelling went away, but I still am dealing with a consistent pain in my jaw. The pain seems to radiate into other areas of my face and my ear. It turns into a headache and I also feel sinus pressure.

Next, I’m supposed to have the crown placed. And I have decided to reschedule the appointment for a week later to hopefully allow some more time for it to heal.

Does this sound normal? Is there something else wrong or do I just need to give it some more healing time?

During the last procedure when he had to search for the fourth canal, I know he had to do a lot of digging. I have only been able to manage soft foods but I’m beginning to become frustrated by the whole thing. It has been close to five or six months now that I’ve been dealing with this problem tooth. Last week the dentist said that everything seemed fine from the x-ray that was done. I have been taking ibuprofen every six hours for weeks now and postponed the appointment like he suggested.

Let me know if you have any advice. Thank you!

– Carolyn from Florida


From what you have described, it sounds like it was good to postpone the crown. Although, it really may be a month or so before it can be fully determined if the tooth will be okay. A root canal treatment may not always be successful. And from the fourth canal that was found coupled with the crack, there is a chance the the root canal may have failed.

During schooling for dentists, they sometimes make you wait for six months before placing the crown to make sure there were no other problems that arose. It is not necessary to wait that long now, but it is important to note that it does take time for issues to surface. For example, if the tooth has an infection then it won’t be visible on the x-ray until the infection has had some time to settle in. Then it still may be difficult to pick it up on an x-ray.

It may be worth another trip to the endodontist to have them evaluate your case and review the x-ray to determine that everything looks okay before having the crowns placed.

This post is sponsored by Lafayette Dentist Theriot Family Dental Care.

Related Links: emergency dentist; CEREC crowns