Root canals 一 also known as endodontic therapy or even root canal therapy 一 is a very common dental procedure. The American Association of Endodontics estimates that nearly 25 million root canals are performed each year.
There’s a reason why so many root canals are performed each year: They can save your tooth! When your tooth is badly decayed, damaged, or infected, a root canal can spell the difference between extracting your tooth and keeping it.
In this article, Dr. Lovely Manlapaz Teodoro discusses the importance of root canals and five signs that you may benefit from one.
Root canal 101
Before you receive root canal therapy, the first step is to confirm that this is the best solution for you. This may include an exam, a review of your symptoms, and an analysis of dental X-rays. Once your treatment plan is confirmed, Dr. Teodoro administers a local anesthetic and nitrous oxide to keep you relaxed, comfortable, and calm.
The next step is to remove any infected or decayed tooth pulp. Your pulp consists of nerves and blood vessels, so once those are removed, we need to clean the inside of your tooth and seal it with a special material (called gutta-percha). This helps seal your tooth to prevent future damage and/or infections.
Afterward, we cover your treated tooth with a crown to fortify it. Although your tooth isn’t “alive” anymore (since we remove the pulp), you can still use your tooth to eat and speak. Whenever possible, it’s important to preserve your natural teeth.
5 signs you may need a root canal
Now that we’ve covered what a root canal is, let’s talk about the instances in which you may need one.
1. You have a toothache
There are many reasons why you may have a toothache. Dental decay, infections, and fractures can all cause pain. Not all toothaches lead to a root canal, but if you have a persistent dull ache, a sharp pain, or shooting sensations, it’s best practice to have your tooth examined.
By addressing the underlying cause of your pain, a root canal helps eliminate the pain of your toothache.
2. You have increased hot and cold sensitivity
A sudden onset of severe hot or cold sensitivity can be a warning sign that you need a root canal. If a sip of hot tea or a bite of cold ice cream leaves you uncomfortable for hours, it could be a sign of deep decay or a crack in your tooth 一 both of which can be remedied with a root canal.
3. You notice a pimplelike bump on your gums
Officially known as a gum abscess, that pimplelike bump is a sign of an infection. The bump is filled with pus and may require draining and a round of antibiotics to clear the infection. In some cases, the abscess can affect the pulp, and it’s known as a periapical abscess.
Other signs of infections include facial swelling, pus, oozing, a foul odor, and a fever. Once the infection reaches your pulp, treatment options are often limited to extractions or root canals. Rest assured, that a root canal and antibiotics can help you feel better in no time.
4. Your tooth is changing colors
When food or beverages stain your teeth, the discoloration usually affects all of your teeth at the same rate. However, if you notice that just one tooth is changing colors, it could be that your tooth is dying. A dying tooth is often the result of severe decay or infection that affects your pulp, leaving your tooth any shade of brown or gray.
5. You can’t use your tooth
Pressure sensitivity means that you can no longer use normal chewing force comfortably, and if your tooth can’t function properly, it’s often a sign of an underlying issue like decay or infection.
What to do if you notice these signs
Keep in mind that just because you spot some of these signs, it doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily need a root canal. Depending on the results of your exam and X-rays, you may only need a filling. Regardless, Dr. Teodoro makes sure that you get the right treatment for your needs, and if that is a root canal, know that the experience of getting a root canal is very similar to getting a filling thanks to modern dental technology.
To learn more about how root canals can save your teeth, call our Hercules, California, office at 510-254-3328. You can also use our online booking system to request your next appointment.