You may be brushing your teeth twice, rinsing and flossing regularly. You may be following your dental care regime strictly, yet be a victim of tooth infection. A tooth infection can happen to the best of us. When an infection reaches your tooth’s root, it can cause the loss of your tooth. Root canals (or endodontics) can help save your tooth!
Root Canals (Endodontics)
What Exactly is Endodontics?
Endodontics is the area of dentistry focused on studying and treating a tooth’s pulp. It not only encompasses the treatment of dental pulp but also focuses on preserving teeth which have failed to respond to non-surgical treatment. The purpose of endodontics is to remove any unhealthy flesh, disinfect the contaminated root canals, and fill the root canal system to prevent re-infection. Endodontics includes root canal therapy, treating cracked teeth, surgery, and treating dental trauma.
Signs that Show You May Need a Root Canal
There are several signs and symptoms that may indicate the need for a root canal. Having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you need the treatment. Sometimes, it might just be a cavity that needs immediate attention. It is best to consult with your dentist about any of the following symptoms:
- Intermittent severe toothaches – Extreme tenderness of the tooth may be noticeable when you chew or apply pressure to your tooth. Severe toothaches are the first sign that may indicate more serious problems with your teeth.
- Sustained sensitivity – Sensitivity is a common dental problem to many. But sensitivity to hot or cold substances, even when the substance is no longer touching your tooth may be a sign that the tooth needs further attention.
- Discoloration – This is when a tooth becomes darker due to infection that is affecting the tooth and its pulp.
- Swelling – The gums around the tooth can become swollen and tender. This swelling causes pain and indicates that something is wrong with the tooth. If an infection inside the tooth causes the swelling, the pain is centered in the region of that tooth’s root tip.
- Abscessed tooth – An abscessed tooth is when there is a pocket (or bump) filled with infected liquid. This infection can reach your tooth’s root.
- Fever – Fever is a possible symptom that you need root canal treatment. This symptom differs from one person to another.
Your dentist will diagnose the problem after evaluating your symptoms and performing a thorough check-up.
Benefits of a Root Canal
- Saves your tooth – We always try to save the tooth. Losing a tooth can have complications, such as crowding and bone loss. With root canal treatment, the saved tooth can last a lifetime.
- Alleviates toothache – There is usually less discomfort during the recovery of a root canal than you would have after a tooth extraction. Treatment also alleviates the toothache caused due to infection.
- Prevents infection – A root canal helps prevent infection of other teeth by removing the bacteria from the tooth cavity.
- Cost-Effective – It is generally more cost-effective to save the tooth than to remove and replace it with a denture, bridge or implant.
How does a Root Canal Work?
A root canal treatment is performed when your tooth’s root is badly decayed or infected. There are several steps to a root canal:
- Consultation – Your dentist will determine the cause of your problem based on your symptoms and a thorough dental check-up. If your dentist suspects the need for a root canal, further check-up is needed.
- X-ray – Your dentist will start by getting an X-ray to look for signs of tooth infection.
- Anesthesia – We may provide local anesthesia to numb the area before treatment. Anesthesia is not required as the nerve is dead but it is recommended to make you feel comfortable during the treatment.
- Access Hole – To reach the pulp, an access hole is drilled into the tooth.
- Cleaning the Tooth – The infected pulp, decayed nerve tissue and related debris are removed from the tooth, and a solution is used to clean the tooth.
- Sealing – This step can be delayed by a week, depending on the state of your tooth and the infection. Once the tooth is ready to be sealed, it is filled with a rubber compound and sealer paste. A filling material is then placed in the access hole to seal it up completely.
- Tooth Restoration – Often, a tooth will need a crown or other restoration to protect the tooth from further damage and return it to its full functionality.
Don't Be Afraid to Get a Root Canal
Having one of the above symptoms does not mean a root canal is needed and even if you need one, there is nothing to be worried about. Our experienced doctors are ready to assist you. Do not ignore a tooth infection.
Dr. Monica Patel is ready to help relieve your discomfort. Call us today!