Having tooth pain or problems can be one of the most uncomfortable experiences possible. It is hard to ignore because it makes your whole quality of life worse. When infection or decay reaches the inner parts of your tooth, it can cause many miserable symptoms. Often the key is getting root canal treatment to save your tooth and alleviate your symptoms. Here are some warning signs that indicate you might need this type of treatment.
Severe pain: Although not always present, severe pain sometimes occurs with a tooth that needs root canal therapy. It may be sharp, intense pain or a dull ache that won’t subside. If you experience tooth pain that is severe or lasts for several days, see your dentist for an evaluation. If root canal treatment is necessary, any pain you may have will likely disappear after a successful procedure.
Sensitivity to hot or cold: Discomfort when consuming hot or cold items is another sign of a problem. Mild sensitivity is usually not a big deal, but actual pain when your tooth hits these temperatures may mean the tooth is in an advanced stage of trouble.
Gum tenderness or inflammation: Swelling or tenderness is often associated with infection, although it doesn’t always mean infection is present. Your dentist can determine the seriousness of the issues and whether root canal treatment is advised. Watch for tenderness, swelling, or even a lump in the affected area.
Darkened tooth: Discoloration is a sign that the nerves of a tooth are damaged. The tooth may become gray, black or dark yellow. Tooth discoloration is also related to trauma, damaged fillings or severe decay, so visiting your dentist for a checkup is recommended.
Gum boils: If lesions similar to a pimple form in the gum tissues, it is called a gum boil. It is usually an accumulation of pus, which can be linked to infection. The boil may be larger or smaller at certain times, depending on the activity of the infection in your mouth. It will feel tender and can cause swelling in the area, and you may notice a bad taste in your mouth.
If you have symptoms such as these, see your dentist to learn if root canal treatment is the solution.
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A tooth that has been damaged by decay or trauma may need endodontic treatment, also called root canal therapy, in order to save the tooth. Although it may sound like a scary procedure, advances in dentistry have made it a much less painful or upsetting process than it used to be. This treatment is worth it to restore your smile as naturally as possible.
How do you know you might need endodontics? You may experience pain in the tooth, sensitivity to hot or cold foods or beverages, or swelling in the area. Severe cases may have a discharge of pus near the tooth. However, not all cases of a badly damaged tooth result in noticeable symptoms. That’s one reason it’s important to maintain regular checkups with your dentist, who will pick up on problems with a tooth that you may not realize is damaged. Examination and testing such as X-rays can help diagnose a tooth that is in dire need of repair.
When possible, dentists strive to save your real tooth. Sometimes the best way to do that is through root canal therapy, which involves removing the damaged tooth pulp from the interior of the tooth. Using local anesthesia to make you comfortable, the dentist or endodontist uses special tools to enter the root canal, remove the pulp, and clean the area thoroughly. Once the tooth is ready, a crown is usually placed on top of the existing tooth to protect it from future damage and to complete the process. Sometimes antibiotics are prescribed if an infection was present to help ensure that you are in the best of health.
Endodontic treatment is often compared by patients to simply getting a regular tooth filling. The procedure is usually completed in one office visit and it won’t be long before you are back to your normal routine, with a fully restored natural tooth in your smile.
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If the prospect of a root canal procedure has you running for the hills, you may want to consider reading over this list of frequently asked questions before you end up cowering in a corner:
What is root canal therapy? Root canal treatment is performed when decay or trauma has damaged a tooth causing it to die. A dentist or endodontist performs a procedure to remove the diseased or damaged pulp from the tooth and then refills the tooth cavity.
Is root canal therapy painful? In reality, root canal treatment is intended to relieve pain, not cause it. Because the procedures are very similar, you should experience no more discomfort than having a cavity filled.
What happens after root canal therapy? Your tooth may be slightly sensitive for a few days, but over-the-counter pain relievers are usually sufficient to relieve any pain you may experience. In order for your tooth to return to full functionality, a crown or other restoration will need to be placed after the root canal therapy is performed.
What if I opt not to choose root canal therapy? Untreated damage or infection in your tooth can travel through the roots and lead to an abscess or larger infection.
Is there an alternative to root canal therapy? You could relieve the pain and infection by having your tooth removed. However, this can cause problems such as bone loss, migration of teeth, and bite problems.
In the case of a severely damaged or decayed tooth, the ideal solution is to save your natural tooth through root canal therapy and restoration. Contrary to popular belief, a root canal procedure is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed in a cavity, and can have enormous benefits to your long-term oral health. Consult with your dental professional to get answers to any other questions or concerns you may have regarding root canal therapy so you can alleviate your fears and return to your healthy smile.
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If you are dealing with ongoing tooth pain, you may be too fearful to go to the dentist to find out what’s going on. It’s important that you do, however, as you may need root canal therapy. Your dentist will need to evaluate you to see if that procedure is necessary, and will closely examine several factors: the signs the dentist can see personally, the results of any tests performed during your visit, and the symptoms you have been experiencing with the problematic tooth.
Your dentist may observe:
A tooth that is discolored
X-rays that reveal a tooth problem
A fistulous tract, or persistent or recurring gum pimple
Additional testing done by your dentist:
X-rays provide an extremely clear picture of the health of the tooth
Thermal testing can evaluate sensitivity through a careful application of hot or cold temperatures
Percussion testing evaluates pain response through gentle tapping
You may have been noticing:
A broken or cracked tooth obviously decayed or damaged
A discolored tooth, especially a grey tooth
A “bubble” in your gums, like a pimple. It may or may not have ruptured, leaking pus that smells or tastes awful
Pain that shoots out from one tooth to your jaw or ear, leading to earache symptoms
Pain that prevents you from living your life without painkillers
Pain, sensitivity or swelling on one certain tooth
Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold liquids that lingers and is very painful
In some cases, an infected tooth that requires a root canal treatment has no symptoms at all that could be discerned by you. Only a dental professional can confirm the need to undergo root canal therapies. If you are experiencing pain that disrupts your life, talk to your dentist or endodontist immediately. Root canal treatments are designed to relieve the pain you’re experiencing now and to restore your tooth to full form and function. Don’t wait to get your life and smile back!
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If you suspect you have an infected tooth, you might wonder if root canal treatment might be in your future. Do you have another option? Yes! One such alternative has been in existence for decades, but has only recently come to be more effective due to advancements in materials. This process is called pulp capping.
Pulp capping can help patients whose root infections have not yet reached the tooth’s nerve. Root infections begin when bacteria enters the pulp of the tooth through a crack or a large cavity. In a standard root canal procedure, the pulp and nerve of the tooth is hollowed out, cleaned and sealed, typically with a crown restoration.
With pulp capping, the nerve is preserved and the tooth is often repaired with a filling instead of a crown. Pulp capping allows the dentist to clean and protect the pulp, defending it from infection with medicine. With a successful pulp cap, the dentin of the tooth begins to regrow over the pulp cap. Advancements in the sealants used during these types of procedures has allowed for a greater percentage of success.
If you have a toothache, it’s important to see your dentist immediately. Pulp capping has a narrow window in which it can be performed. If your tooth is too infected, the pulp and nerve of your tooth may already be infected, and it’s too late for pulp capping to be effective.
A pulp cap is a far less invasive procedure than a root canal treatment or a tooth extraction, and there is less recovery time and tooth sensitivity following the treatment.
If you suspect you may have a tooth in trouble, talk to your dentist now. You might be able to save yourself a root canal treatment.
Have you been told that you may need a root canal treatment? Are you worried because of things you’ve heard in the media about how “awful” a root canal is? Don’t worry about what you’ve heard; endodontic therapy isn’t at all what you’d think. Let’s debunk some myths!
Myth #1: Root canal treatment is very painful. This isn’t true! In fact, a root canal treatment is performed specifically to relieve a patient’s pain, not to cause more. After a root canal treatment, you might feel some tenderness, but the pain you felt when the damaged tissue and infection was still inside the tooth will be completely gone. Once the swelling from the procedure has gone down, you will be able to use your new tooth exactly the way you could use your natural tooth when it was completely healthy.
Myth #2: Root canal therapy or other endodontic work can lead to disease elsewhere in the body. Another falsehood! Root canal treatments don’t spread disease to the rest of the body, rather, they remove infected tissue and bacteria from the body, preventing the affected tooth from becoming re-infected.
Myth #3: Extraction is better than root canal treatment. Extraction is not preferred to root canal treatment! Whenever possible, it’s preferred to keep your natural tooth. Your natural tooth’s roots stimulate and preserve the bone of your jaw, as well as providing adequate support to the surrounding teeth. Dental implants or dental bridges can be problematic, both in function and in dietary restrictions. In fact, an extraction can lead to several prolonged appointments to perform replacement procedures, treatments that are far more involved than a root canal treatment.
Endodontic treatment is an extremely common dental procedure that can provide durable, long-lasting restorations that will function as your natural tooth did. If you believe you may need a root canal treatment, talk to your endodontist or dentist today to see how this successfully proven treatment can help you and your smile needs.
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