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Root Canal or Cosmetic Procedure?

I have a right lateral incisor that is bothering me. I went to see my dentist who said there “could” be an infection but he isn’t sure. He did see what he thought to be a faint horizontal fracture. I have the choice between getting a root canal treatment and dental crown, or going the cosmetic route and using bonding to fix the crack. Though, my dentist said I would need to have several teeth bonded to get it to match. What is your recommendation?


Dear Aggie,

Woman holding her jaw in pain.

I don’t understand why your dentist is confused here. Either the tooth is infected or it isn’t. I would not choose a treatment solution until you had an answer for that. If it is infected, then you need a root canal treatment. If it’s not infected, you can eliminate the need for the root canal.

I have my doubts about this fracture. A fracture would mean the tooth is dead and then you would not be experiencing tooth pain. It is possible that you have a faint crack in the tooth. If you want to go the dental bonding route to fix that, I would go to a dentist who can just do it on that tooth. There are skilled cosmetic dentists out there that can match a single tooth. However, if you don’t see or feel the crack, that makes me wonder if you even need that.

Based on everything you have described, I don’t have a ton of confidence in your dentist. My suggestion is that you see an endodontist to get this tooth properly diagnosed. If the tooth is infected, the endodontist will have specialized training and can do the root canal treatment for you, as well as the dental crown.

Tooth infections are not something that you want to mess around with. If left untreated that can turn into something that threatens a lot more than a single tooth. In fact, people still die from untreated tooth infections. I would get a second opinion so you get the best possible care and can make a truly informed decision.

This blog is brought to you by San Antonio Endodontist Dr. Scott Janse.