The classic cultural stereotype of a root canal is painful and even unnecessary is false. Root canals are a safe, routine procedure that is designed to prevent decay from spreading. Ignoring a decaying tooth can lead to a greater problem with the formation of abscesses in the jaw, which can severely impact your quality of life and ability to eat, talk, or smile.
Why would one need a root canal?
When a tooth, through trauma, or general decay, gets infected or damaged it may necessitate a root canal therapy. The procedure has the dentist remove the nerve or blood supply of the tooth, known as the pulp, and fills the empty space left and seals the tooth.
The infection or damage of the tooth’s pulp can cause the tooth to die. This becomes a huge feast for the bacteria in your mouth, causing them to multiply exponentially. While under normal circumstances your body would be able to fight off the infection by sending its legions of white blood cells, the normal pathway for them to get to the site is the blood supply. With the blood supply gone, not as many white blood cells can reach the infected area. The bacteria thrive, grow, and multiply as a result.
If not taken care of, the problem can spread. The bacteria can spread into the area between your jaw and your tooth. This often ends in the creation of an abscess. An abscess can cause jaw decay, or even swelling that can spread to not only the surrounding gum area but into the face, head or neck.
The pain of the infection is what often leads patients to seek out emergency dental care. Difficulty in chewing often follows because the basic activity puts pressure on the infected tissues. Sensitivity to hot and cold is often common.
Leaving the infected site untreated can affect not only the problem tooth but the surrounding teeth, soft tissues. They can cause great pain and complications. Seek out dental care as soon as you can to help mitigate the long-term effects of an infected tooth. The current methods and technologies used can give you an experience that is very comfortable, with many patients comparing it to the experience of getting a routine filling.
Signs you may need a root canal
If you are feeling any of these signs, please contact your dentist right away. They may be signs that you need root canal therapy. Symptoms include, but aren’t limited to:
- Severe tooth pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity or pain to hot or cold temperatures, especially after the source of heat or cold has been removed.
- Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness of the nearby gums
- A persistent or a recurring pimple on the gums.
Sometimes there is no symptoms present. That is why routine check-ups are important for maintaining your dental health. The procedure itself is relatively painless, as the nerves in the root are already dead, and anesthesia is applied to help calm the patient. The tooth is kept dry as it is drilled and the pulp is removed before being filled with a filling agent, restoring the function of the tooth.
Your dental health impacts all areas of your life, so be sure to go to regular check-ups with a dentist that you are confident and feel safe with.