A root canal is, in essence, a last-chance procedure to save a severely decayed or infected tooth. Why is it called a “root canal?” This refers to the area within the teeth where the nerve and pulp are located—and which often the source of growing decay and pain. The nerve and pulp must be removed if the rest of the tooth is to be saved.
The nerve is not essential to ongoing tooth function, serving mostly to detect temperature differences and changes in pressure. However, if it has become infected, it is a liability that could result in swelling, drainage, and bone loss if not addressed as soon as possible. In a root canal treatment (also known as an endodontic treatment), a dentist creates a small opening in the tooth’s crown and cleans out the pulp and nerve. The empty space is then filled in and sealed, preventing further decay to take place.
How can you tell if you might need a root canal? Here are a handful of symptoms to watch for:
- Extreme pain and sensitivity while chewing or putting pressure on the tooth.
- Internal discoloration of the tooth.
- A recurring pimple on the gums, which may indicate an abscess.
- Heightened sensitivity to temperatures (both hot and cold).
- Increased gum sensitivity and swelling.
If you exhibit any or all of these symptoms, it would be wise to contact a dentist to discuss whether a root canal treatment is your best solution. Root canals are highly successful in saving teeth that would otherwise be lost to decay. It helps retain full tooth functionality while minimizing ongoing care and costs.
Once a root canal is completed, the affected area receives a dental cap or filling, entirely concealing the work done so your smile retains its full, healthy appeal. It isn’t uncommon for the tooth or surrounding gums to be sensitive for a few days after the procedure but this shouldn’t prevent patients from returning to their daily routines immediately following treatment.
Basic, ongoing dental hygiene and oral protection is an easy and affordable way to prevent a root canal from ever being necessary in the first place.
A root canal may be your best option for ongoing dental health. Contact Smile Beautiful Dental today for a free consultation to see if this is the case!