Does the thought of seeing the dentist and needing a root canal make you think of extreme pain? That might have been the case 50 years ago, but advances in dental care make a root canal in today’s world a breeze. Putting myths aside, it’s important to understand what a root canal is and the warning signs you might need one.
What is a Root Canal?
Your teeth have a layer of enamel on the outside to protect the dentin, the second layer of the tooth. The dentin is a soft inside core of the tooth that extends into the root of the jawbone. Inside the center are all the nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels commonly referred to as dental pulp. When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, you need a root canal to clean out the decay and preserve the natural tooth. Because of the procedure, the natural tooth becomes a little more fragile, requiring a crown.
A root canal procedure is designed to extract any bacteria and decay on the pulp, nerves, and the root of the tooth. The area is then disinfected and filled with antibiotics to prevent further infection before the area is sealed. A root canal is carried out by a specialist dentist known as an endodontist.
Here are Six Warning Signs You Might Need a Root Canal:
1. Pain in the Tooth
Experiencing tooth pain is an indicator that something may be wrong in the pulp area of the tooth. While many reasons can cause tooth pain, if the root tip becomes hypersensitive due to infection or the pulp area is dying, this can irritate the ligament around the root’s tip. Ongoing pain may indicate you need a root canal.
2. Sensitivity to Heat and Cold
A common sign of needing a root canal is sensitivity to hot and cold drinks or food. The sensitivity could feel like a dull ache or a sharp pain, indicating the nerves or blood vessels are damaged or infected. If the sensitivity continues for an extended period of time, it is best to have it checked out because it won’t heal on its own if it is a damaged root.
3. Deep Decay
Brushing, flossing, or rinsing with a mouth wash won’t solve a deep cavity problem in the tooth. Neglecting a cavity for a long time allows the infection to spread to the nerves and tooth roots. If this happens, a root canal is likely to be the only option to prevent further decay and possible contamination to other teeth. If you neglect your teeth and the infection spreads, a small fix becomes much more serious.
4. Gum Infection
Swollen gums near a painful tooth are usually caused by acidic waste as a by-product of dead pulp tissue. If you find your gums are swollen, painful, or have a raised bump on them, the issue might be resolved without a root canal; however, it’s best to check with your dentist if inflamed gums don’t improve.
5. Chipped or Cracked Tooth
If you play a contact sport, have been involved in an accident, or bitten down on something very hard, resulting in a chipped or cracked tooth, bacteria can set in and lead to infection. A cracked or chipped tooth can expose the nerves beneath the tooth and enter the bloodstream. To prevent further infection and pain, this may require a root canal.
If you suffer a mouth injury, it can still damage the nerves in your teeth even if the teeth don’t chip or crack.
6. Dark Discoloration of the Tooth
Discolored teeth can be the result of poor dental hygiene or nerve damage beneath the tooth’s surface. Breakdown of the internal tooth tissue can damage the roots, giving your teeth a grayish-black appearance. This can indicate an infection in the tooth’s pulp, causing the teeth to become discolored.
It is best to check with your dentist if the discoloration is being caused by external agents such as coffee, smoking, or something more serious requiring a root canal.
Contact the Experts at Advanced Endodontics For a Root Canal
While a root canal may sound scary, the advances in technology mean it’s usually no different than having a deep filling, except it takes a little longer. Local anesthetics numb the tooth and surrounding area to make you comfortable during the procedure. Some may feel a little pain after the procedure, which is easily managed with over the counter pain medication.
If you suspect you might need a root canal, contact Advanced Endodontics. We specialize in these procedures, using the latest technology with outstanding results. It won’t matter if you have a low tolerance for pain, suffer from dental anxiety, or are just plain nervous, our advanced solutions will put you at ease.