Root Canal TreatmentHave you recently noticed some of the following problems are affecting a tooth? Has it been necessary to use over-the-counter painkillers to deaden a persistent toothache? You might need a root canal! Recognizing the signs and symptoms is essential as the sooner you seek dental treatment, the better the chances of saving the tooth. Early dental care can save you time, money and a lot of discomfort.

Why Is Root Canal Therapy Even Necessary?

Root canal therapy is needed when the inner part of a tooth becomes severely infected. Usually, your tooth is protected with a hard layer of enamel. When this outer layer is breached, for example, if it becomes cracked or decayed or if you take a blow to a tooth that causes it to chip, then decay-causing bacteria can gradually penetrate the tooth. Unless you get treatment to protect the damaged tooth, these bacteria will eventually reach the innermost part of the tooth which is called the pulp. The tooth pulp contains nerves, connective tissues and blood vessels which is why it’s so painful when you have a tooth infection.

Root canal therapy removes the infected pulp and damaged areas of the tooth so that it can be properly restored. The tooth pulp is needed as the tooth develops, but when an adult tooth is fully grown, then it can survive perfectly well without the pulp. Knowing the signs that you may need a root canal will allow you to seek treatment that much more quickly.

Signs that something isn’t right with a tooth include:

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is an early sign that a tooth is in trouble. Most people have experienced some degree of tooth sensitivity, and often this happens as a natural part of aging and as tooth enamel becomes weaker and thinner. Teeth can also become more sensitive if you brush your teeth too hard, or if you typically eat a lot of highly acidic or sugary foods. However, while some degree of sensitivity may be normal, experiencing sharp or shooting pains isn’t, and you should book a checkup. It could be that a tooth has a cavity and treatment might be as simple as a filling.

Severe Toothache

If you ignore tooth sensitivity, then it might develop into a toothache. A severe toothache can be horrible, and the pain may be constant or could only occur when you bite down on the tooth or when you touch it. When you have a toothache, it’s a sign that the tooth is infected and will most likely require root canal therapy.

Swollen Gums

A tooth infection can also affect your gums, and you may notice that the gum around the affected tooth looks swollen or red. Gum swelling due to a tooth infection is localized, unlike gum disease where all your gums are infected.

Pimple on Your Gum

Another sign of a tooth infection is noticing a pimple has developed on the gum nearest the affected tooth. A gum pimple can be caused by bacteria building up beneath the gum tissue as the infection begins to spread beyond the tooth.

Tooth Discoloration

If you notice a tooth has suddenly become discolored and looks darker than you remember, then the tooth could require root canal therapy, especially if accompanied by other signs such as tooth pain. An infected tooth can discolor as the pulp inside the tooth gradually dies.

Why You Needn’t Fear Root Canal Therapy

The very thought of having a root canal is enough to send shivers down some people’s spines, but anyone who has already had this treatment will have a very different view. Despite their less than favorable reputation, root canals are a good thing for your dental health and are not to be feared. Before this technique was invented, even the very best dentists would have had no choice but to remove a severely infected tooth. Tooth removal is always the last resort, and it is always better to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. The sooner Dr. Benjamin Hull can assess your tooth, the more quickly it can be treated and the more likely it is that we can save your tooth.

Diagnosing a Tooth Infection

Dr. Hull will need to examine your tooth and will most likely take digital dental x-rays of the affected tooth. These digital images allow Dr. Hull to assess the extent of the infection and are used to plan your treatment because they will show the number of tooth roots and their shape. Different teeth have a different number of tooth roots, for example, a front tooth will only have a single root, but a back tooth can have three roots, all of which must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected during treatment. Dr. Hull may use other diagnostic tests including placing something cold on the infected tooth and comparing the sensation this creates with a healthy tooth.

What to Expect during Root Canal Therapy

If root canal treatment is needed, Dr. Hull will ensure you feel as comfortable as possible during treatment and can always provide additional sedation if you feel particularly anxious. Root canal therapy shouldn’t feel any worse than having an ordinary filling, although the procedure may take longer to complete because it is more complicated. The tooth pulp is accessed through the crown of the tooth which is the part you can typically see in your mouth, and all the infected tissues are thoroughly removed, and the treated area is disinfected. At this stage, Dr. Hull may choose to place a temporary filling which will protect your tooth, and this is just to make sure all the infection is eliminated before the tooth is permanently restored. Afterward, any tooth discomfort should disappear, although it could take a few days for your tooth to settle down.

Restoring a Root Treated Tooth

Once the tooth has settled down, then it can be permanently restored. Typically, it’s necessary to completely cover the tooth with a dental crown because a tooth that has received root canal therapy tends to be more brittle and easily damaged. By completely covering up the tooth, it will be restored to its full strength and structure, and of course, your new crown should look beautiful! It’s important to have regular checkups and cleanings and to follow a good oral care regime at home which will help to keep your root treated tooth strong and healthy. With proper ongoing care, it’s not unusual for root treated teeth to last for years.