Everything You Should Know About Root Canal Treatment

Posted On Friday, 01 June 2018
Everything You Should Know About Root Canal Treatment

The words "root canal treatment" successfully instill fear in the bravest of us, to a point where people might choose living with the pain instead of going through the procedure.

What Exactly Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a badly decayed or infected tooth. During this procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the dentist cleans and seals the inside of the tooth. Without root canal treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form.

Here are a few symptoms and situations where you may need a root canal treatment.

Symptoms Pointing Towards a Root Canal Treatment

Tooth Pain
Tooth pain is generally the first sign that points towards needing the treatment. The pain usually gets worse when you are eating, biting down or applying any kind of pressure.

Gum Inflammation
If the gums near a tooth are painful, swollen or have a raised bump on them, it might point towards a root canal.

Tooth Discoloration
If there is a darkening of the tooth compared to the teeth alongside it, it may indicate the need for a root canal treatment.

Extreme Tooth Sensitivity
Teeth sensitivity increases when you have something hot or cold but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a root canal. However, if the sensitivity doesn’t go away once the hot or cold element is removed and the pain lingers, a root canal might be required.

5 Instances When You Might Need the Treatment

Extensive Tooth Decay
If there is tooth decay, it means there is a layer of bacteria that penetrates further than the actual destruction. Once the decay reaches the nerve, the bacteria will contaminate the nerve, causing inflammation and pressure buildup inside the tooth. The decay progression will eventually damage the pulp, which contains highly sensitive nerves and blood vessels.

Internal Tooth Resorption
This refers to a dental condition where the body’s own cells eat away and dissolve tooth structure. It isn’t a common condition, but if you suffer from internal tooth resorption, you need to visit an endodontist and check if you need a root canal treatment or not.

Broken, Fractured or Chipped Tooth
Any kind of trauma to the tooth may lead to a root canal treatment. Teeth are exposed to numerous kinds of stresses, including chewing, grinding and clenching. While it is possible to repair minor chips and cracks using tooth-colored bonding material and a crown to cap the tooth, the more severe cracks may require root canal treatment in addition to bonding. If the damage to the tooth has extended into the pulp, the chances of needing root canal treatment become much greater.

Large Tooth Fillings
If a cavity is left untreated, large fillings may be required. If the decay is extensive and results in more tooth structural removal and a larger filling, it would increase the risk of root canal treatment. A dental filling that is greater than one-third of the tooth’s width is considered to be large. If the decay or filling reaches the pulp, inflammation or infection may develop.

Abscessed Tooth
A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. Abscesses may occur in different regions of the tooth for different reasons. A periapical abscess occurs at the tip of the root while a periodontal abscess occurs in the gums next to a tooth root.

Regardless of the causes, if root canal procedure is the only option to preserve the tooth and prevent future dental problems, you must address it immediately. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you begin treatment, the better the chances to save you tooth.

Shen Chao

Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Dental Clinic in Goodyear, AZ. While working for the dental clinic, he's gained first hand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he's not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends.

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