Does this sound like root canal treatment is necessary?

Mar 21, 2024
Hello - I'll try keep as brief as possible; thanks for reading.

Recently visited a dentist due to discomfort and toothache. In the week before the visit, experienced what could be described as mild dull pain in lower quarter of jaw. Pain wasn't sharp or severe by any means, but caused discomfort to the extent it disrupted sleep on the first few nights.

On the third morning, noticed slight movement in a tooth, akin to the surrounding gum area being swollen. Can bite and chew on without much discomfort, but only when pushed in certain directions you'd feel slight pain. Running electric oscillating toothbrush past there would cause a sensation which was slightly tender and you're aware of movement in that tooth. It progressively felt better up to & including the day of dentist check up a few days later. So all in all, toothache started a week prior to visit.

On day of visit;

- can chew and eat on affected area
- slight pain / tenderness on the loose tooth
- no bad taste or smell / breath in mouth
- no swollen, red or inflamed gums around the area / tooth
- no constant throbbing but sometimes reminded of an issue there requiring attention

After an X-Ray was taken, the tooth in question was apparently infected - how severely, not sure. X-ray showed dark outline along the root of the tooth, but unable to show(?) infection or decay resulting in infection within tooth? Don't think I saw a bulge at the root on the x-ray to suggest an abscess has formed and certainly did not have any spots or bulge in the gums from what I can see / feel.

At this stage, I've had the infected pulp removed, disinfected and a temp filling done on the tooth. I couldn't smell the apparently bad odour from the infection removed. Is this the right choice considering the points outlined above? Would there have been a less invasive option?

Is it too late to not proceed with the root canal procedure and leave it as it is? I can still feel the tooth if I rub my tongue against it, so I assume the nerves are still live? Is a crown always required after a root canal?

Thanks for any advice.

Dr M

Verified Dentist
May 31, 2019
You will have to complete the treatment once a root canal has been started. It does sound like a root canal was indicated in your case, although an x-ray might help me give more info. It is important to note that tooth decay is not the only reason for a root canal to be performed. Cracks or even periodontal infections ( gum infections ) can affect the nerve, leading to infection.

Mar 21, 2024
Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I should also add that tapping the tooth indicates slight movement (sound becomes more solid with tongue supporting the other side - sounding like normal tooth). Tapping on it was slightly tender, but now seems better. However, I'm unsure if that was because of the tooth or the surrounding gum area?

Apparently failed the cold test, but with the temp filing now, I can still feel the tooth as normal and when tapped (maybe surrounding gum?).


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