When it comes to caring for your teeth, practicing good oral hygiene along with regularly scheduled dental cleanings and exams are often all you need. Yet, there may be times when a tooth needs extra attention, and that can mean a root canal.
While you may dread the thought of undergoing a root canal procedure, the most important thing to note is that, in some cases, it is essential, and in others, you may have another choice available. If you ever do find yourself in such a situation, here are some things to know that will help you understand when and why a root canal is needed.
What is a Root Canal Procedure?
A root canal is a precise procedure where an infected tooth is thoroughly cleaned all the way down to its root, removing all of the infection and decay.
To determine if you need one, your dental team will take digital X-rays of the tooth to gain a better view of what is going on inside. If decay has indeed progressed to the root, a root canal procedure will most likely be the necessary treatment.
After numbing the area or placing you under sedation, a small incision in the top of the tooth is made. Through this tiny hole, your dentist will remove the infected tissue residing in the root of the tooth, making sure that everything is cleared from the hollowed-out area. A resin material is then used to fill the space, restoring the structure and strength of that tooth. Finally, the hole made to reach the root is sealed.
Following the root canal procedure, you will most likely need a dental crown to protect what is left of your natural tooth. You may need this right away or later on depending upon the tooth’s condition.
Root canals fall under the specialty of endodontics, but many dental offices today offer them in addition to their other services. This offering makes it more convenient for patients, and you get to stay with your own dentist instead of being referred out to a specialist.
When is a Root Canal Needed?
Root canals are a beneficial treatment option for patients suffering with severe cavities and dental injuries. Such a procedure halts the spread of infection, alleviates the discomfort, and can save the natural tooth. As a result, you can avoid having your tooth fall out on its own or require an extraction by your dentist.
If you are struggling with the decision of whether or not you really need a root canal, consider the condition of your tooth. Is it badly decayed or damaged? If so, a root canal or extraction may be your only options.
To help you determine how severe your particular situation is at any time, pay attention to the following symptoms indicating infection.
- Sharp, intense pain in the tooth.
- Continual throbbing pain in the area of the tooth.
- Extreme tooth sensitivity when chewing or biting down and when drinking or eating hot or cold beverages or foods.
- Tenderness, swelling, or pain in the gums.
- Discoloration or redness in the tooth or gum area surrounding the tooth.
- Existence of small bumps that look like pimples known as fistulas.
- An inflated bump at the base of the tooth, called an abscess.
- Discomfort or tenderness in the lymph nodes beneath your jaw.
If you experience any of the following, or your dentist finds these during an exam, you really do need that root canal.
- A cavity becomes so deep that it breaks into the inner pulp of the tooth, causing a bacterial infection. This infection, if left untreated, can destroy what remains of the tooth and also travel throughout your bloodstream, causing potentially severe illnesses.
- The tooth has already undergone multiple dental procedures, such as fillings for cavities or crown replacements.
- A severe tooth injury occurs that causes major cracks, chips, and breaks throughout the structure of the tooth itself.
- Injuries to the interior of the tooth lay hidden until your dentist takes an x-ray, prompting the need for the root canal.
The best way to understand when and why a root canal procedure is needed is to discuss it with your dentist. You may be shown X-rays or digital scans to confirm injury or infection deep in the root. This is also a great time to ask any questions you have before moving forward.
Schedule Your Consultation with Linworth Family Dental Today
The need for a root canal can create apprehension and anxiety, and knowing all you can about the procedure involved and why it’s needed can help put your mind at ease. Here at Linworth Family Dental, we provide our patients with compassionate, full-service care, and that means endodontics as well.
You can rely on our team to provide you with the best care and, if needed, a root canal to help save a tooth and alleviate pain and other symptoms right away. Contact our office today and schedule a consultation or an appointment for a dental cleaning or exam.