Dentists perform millions of root canals every year. They are one of the most common dental procedures to date. So if your dentist has recommended that you get a root canal, you are definitely not alone.
It might have started with pain or discomfort in your teeth, and you may have been wondering whether you need a filling or a root canal. Perhaps you haven’t been to see your dentist about the pain yet, and you’re not sure what the most obvious signs of a root canal are.
Well, you’re in luck. We’ll break down exactly what a root canal is, answer your questions, explain the symptoms, and shed some light on the best ways to prevent a root canal in the future.
What is a root canal?
Your tooth has layers – the outside of your tooth is called the enamel, and underneath this is a hard layer called dentin. Beneath the dentin, there is a soft tissue called pulp. This tissue has blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that help grow the root of your tooth during its development in childhood. A fully developed tooth can survive without this pulp, as your roots are fully formed. The tooth will continue to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
If your tooth becomes chipped, cracked, or develops a deep cavity, a pathway to the pulp is created for bacteria to enter. When this happens, the pulp can become inflamed and painful. Left untreated, the bacteria and decaying material can worsen. It can cause a serious infection, tooth abscesses, and even lead to bone loss or loss of the entire tooth.
Your dentist will notice this infection in your tooth, and recommend a root canal as a treatment to repair and save the badly damaged tooth instead of removing it. During this procedure, the dentist will remove the inflamed or infected pulp from the inside of your tooth.
Despite misconceptions about the procedure, a root canal is no more uncomfortable than getting a filling. It’s a simple, routine procedure that dentists regularly perform.
What are the signs you need a root canal?
There are multiple signs that you may need a root canal. If you are experiencing any of the below symptoms, you should consult with your dentist ASAP.
- Severe pain: Pain or discomfort in the mouth, especially located in certain positions of the gum or tooth can indicate infection.
- Sensitivity: If your tooth hurts when you consume hot or cold drinks or foods, this may also be a sign of infection. Most commonly, this sensitivity feels like a dull ache or a sharp pain. Oftentimes, in the case of an infection, the pain will linger for a while.
- Discoloration: Infected pulp can cause your tooth to become discolored. Watchout for teeth with a grayish-black appearance.
- Swollen gums
- Pain when you eat or touch the tooth
Can I avoid getting a root canal?
If your dentist has recommended a root canal, you cannot avoid it. Left untreated, it can quickly escalate into more serious conditions. However, you can prevent needing a root canal in the future through proper oral hygiene, and regular dentist visits to look after your teeth.
If you are in need of a checkup or suspect you may need a root canal, Dr. Winsome-Henry Ward is here to help. Call us today to discuss the treatment options that are right for you.