In February, my dentist placed a small filling in tooth #15 because he thought I complained about sensitivity to cold in the tooth. The tooth was fine until April. While eating ice cream, I noticed that the tooth was sensitive to sweet and cold. But then I had morning coffee, and that caused intense pain. I returned to my dentist, and he wants to refer me to an endodontist for a root canal. I made the appointment, but I wonder if it’s necessary. Why can’t my dentist try a different type of filling? – Amaeus from Maine
A tooth that is sensitive to heat or cold needs root canal treatment. Keep the appointment with the endodontist, or root canal specialist.
Reasons a Tooth Is Sensitive to Heat
Trauma to a tooth or deep decay can trigger intense pain when the tooth is in contact with heat or cold. The pulp of the tooth is damaged or infected, and the endodontist will remove it.
Depending on the date of your appointment with the specialist, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. Ask him to protect the tooth with a strong temporary crown, or your dentist might recommend a same-day crown. Otherwise, the tooth can split, and you’ll lose it. Your dentist might reduce the tooth to prevent you from biting down on it and breaking if beyond repair.
An endodontist, or a dentist with advanced training in root canal therapy, will perform a quick, painless procedure to save your tooth. Don’t delay treatment. The damage can get worse over time and be more costly and time-consuming to correct.
What to Expect
- Your endodontist or dentist will numb the area around your tooth.
- The dentist or orthodontist will clean and disinfect your tooth and fill it with a dental filler material.
- You’ll need another crown to protect the tooth. Meanwhile, you can wear a temporary crown. Your tooth will be numb for two to four hours.
If root canal treatment isn’t successful, your dentist will explain your options for replacing the tooth, including a dental implant.
This post is sponsored by Monroe, LA dentist Dr. David Finley—an accredited fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.