When Do I Know I Need A Root Canal?

Root canal treatment is the procedure to save teeth that are so severely decayed that simple fillings cannot be used for efficiently solving the problem or to treat the infection in the tooth. Whether or not the toothache that you have been suffering from needs root canal therapy is something that only your dentist can decide, but here are some signs that indicate the high likelihood that your tooth cannot be saved with a simple filling and some details about the procedure.

What is, in fact, Root Canal?

The human tooth consists of more than the layer of shiny, strong, white layer of enamel on the surface – beneath the enamel, there is a layer of hard matter called dentin that protects a very soft and sensitive layer of soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains lots of blood vessels, nerves and other types of tissue that can be severely affected if the outer layers of the tooth become decayed or damaged and the soft tissue is exposed. Exposed pulp can become inflamed or infected by the bacteria that reach into or develop in the mouth and it might start breaking down, which further aggravates the infection – if that happens, root canal treatment is the most efficient way to clean the infected area and to promote its healing before the tooth is finally restored with filling.

The root canal procedure starts with an X-ray of the damaged tooth to reveal the location and the extent of the infection. If the dentist decides that root canal is necessary, the patient will receive local anesthesia (look for a sedation dentistry Colorado Springs expert for the best results) to numb the area of the intervention, then the tooth to be treated is cleaned and its surface is dried. An access hole is drilled into the dental enamel and the pulp is cleaned and removed, along with the bacteria and the debris that have caused the inflammation. In some cases, the hole resulting from the cleaning procedure is sealed at the end of the first procedure, in other cases, the patient needs to wait for a couple of weeks for the treated area to heal properly before the final filling is applied.

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The Symptoms to Indicate that Root Canal Might Be Necessary

Here are some signs that require you to turn to a dentist immediately and that might need to be addressed with root canal treatment:

  • Severe toothache that becomes worse while eating or drinking and that does not seem to be ameliorated by painkillers available over the counter;
  • Sensitivity to cold or to heat that persists for minutes after the contact with the heat or the cold;
  • A discoloration of the tooth – the teeth that might need root canal treatment might become darker than the healthy teeth around it;
  • Tenderness in the gum;
  • Redness or swelling of the gum around the affected tooth;
  • Swelling that affects the cheek on the side where the affected tooth is located;
  • An abscess on the gum right above the affected tooth – the pimple-like bump appears as a result of the infection in the deeper tissues of the tooth.