About eight months ago I had a cavity filled with a white filling. Shortly afterward this tooth became sensitive to cold temperatures. I returned to the dentist regarding the new sensitivity. The dentist stated this tooth initially had a deep cavity and recommended placing a crown over it using temporary cement. If the tooth was still sensitive a root canal would be recommended. It has been eight months and my tooth is still sensitive. During this time I have been saving for my portion of the total crown cost, if I should undergo this procedure. Currently, I am seeking a second opinion regarding my sensitive tooth. Would replacing the filling resolve the problem? What is your opinion regarding the crown? Is there a way to avoid a root canal?
– Cassie in Washington
Does your tooth need a root canal treatment? You may just have to wait and see. The key thing you want to watch for is whether the sensitivity is getting worse at this point or better. If it’s getting worse, you probably need a root canal.
Even though I don’t understand what your dentist did, I wouldn’t recommend a second opinion. What I don’t understand is why he or she did a temporary crown after the tooth was sensitive. Was there evidence the tooth was cracked? That is the only way I can make sense of that treatment. If a tooth is sensitive just to cold after placing a white filling, it’s generally best to leave it alone and hope it recovers. The more you do to it, the more you could aggravate it. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend replacing the filling–just wait it out.
When a tooth feels fine immediately after a new filling, whether it is a composite filling or a silver filling, and then there is a delayed sensitivity reaction, that usually means that there are bacteria from the original decay that had penetrated into the pulp of the tooth, and you just have to hope that the normal body defenses can take care of them, because the only way to clean it out is to do a root canal treatment.
But I wouldn’t fear a root canal. These days, they are generally relatively painless.
– Dr. Hall
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