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Are root canals inevitable with composite fillings?



Junior member
Apr 22, 2022
Southeast USA
TLDR: I had a substitute dentist that randomly mentioned I had a lot of fillings close to the nerve and to come see him when I need root canals and I'm stressing out about the implications of it.

I had a bad experience a little over 5 years ago when my dentist accidentally struck a nerve that was out of the usual place and got infected. She sent me to an endodontist that was unable to numb me for my root canal and I had to drive for 2 hours and pay a lot to get sedated for it. Since then I've been more anxious about the condition of my teeth and worried about having a similar or worse experience in the future. I feel guilty and kind of angry at myself whenever I think about it. I don't know why I didn't take the time to learn and take care of my teeth better 10 years ago.

Anyways, my usual dentist was unavailable when I had my most recent cleaning, and her business partner filled in. He double checked a discolored composite filling that he told me was ok, made the usual small talk, complimented my smile and his partner's work, and kind of randomly said something to the effect of "you're doing ok right now, but you have a bunch of larger fillings kind of close to the nerve. If you have any trouble with them come to me and I'll do some root canals."

I know I have composite fillings and I already tended to worry about what will happen when they eventually wear out. Is he saying that that's what's going to eventually happen when they fail? Am I reading too much into it? I thought/hoped he might just be anxious to let people know the office has a root canal guy now.

Sorry about the novella length post. I had to give a lot of context.
You're reading too much into it. Assuming your diet is reasonable and your home care is OK there is no reason to suppose your fillings will fail at all.
First of all: Thanks for responding to me so quickly.

1) Wow! Really? I read they last 10-20 years at most and worry a lot since mine are 10-15 yrs old already. I think my home care is pretty good. Brush 2x+ floss 1x and multiple water pic's a day.

2) Is it also safe to say root canals aren't inevitable in the event they do fail?
1) Truth is we don't really know how long they last. The trouble is that composites are being improved continuously, so although we do have long term data, we simply don't have 30-40 year data on the newer materials since they haven't been using them long enough. We can assume that they are mechanically better than the previous generations but we just can't be certain yet.

I've got amalgams in my mouth that are 50 years old and composites which were placed in the early 80s which are still fine...

2) Yes, root canals are not inevitable if they fail. Usually, composites can be repaired in many cases rather than needing completely replaced, which is good news too.
Good to know! Thanks again for answering my questions.