root canal treatment

The Truth About Root Canal Therapy

Most people would rather do anything than have a root canal. Unfortunately, this procedure receives a bad rap. A root canal is generally performed to clean out an infected tooth and prevent future problems. Usually, patients feel better after root canal therapy.

Knowing the truth about root canals may help you feel less apprehensive if your dentist recommends this procedure.

  • A root canal hurts.
    Actually, the pain you feel is caused by the swelling and pressure in your tooth. When a tooth sustains severe trauma, the pulp, or soft nerve center, may die. During a root canal, your dentist will remove the damaged tissue, disinfect the tooth, and seal off the inside. Most people only experience mild soreness afterwards, if they feel any discomfort at all.
  • Root canal therapy takes many appointments.
    Although this timing depends on the severity of the case, most root canals are completed in one to two appointments. Once your dentist finishes the root canal, you will probably need at least one more visit for restoration of the tooth, usually with an inlay, onlay, or crown.
  • I only need a root canal if my tooth hurts.
    Pain often lets you know you have a problem with a tooth, but if your tooth root dies you may have no symptoms. The dentist can perform tests to determine the health of a tooth, including temperature and percussion testing.
  • The root canal won’t last.
    Once the tooth is cleaned and sealed, you should have no further problems with the tooth. Sometimes the restoration of the tooth fails, which can causes the tooth to crack or break. This usually occurs if you wait too long to have a crown or adequate filling placed.

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Signs You May Need a Root Canal Therapy

If you are dealing with ongoing tooth pain, you may be too fearful to go to the dentist to find out what’s going on. It’s important that you do, however, as you may need root canal therapy. Your dentist will need to evaluate you to see if that procedure is necessary, and will closely examine several factors: the signs the dentist can see personally, the results of any tests performed during your visit, and the symptoms you have been experiencing with the problematic tooth.

Your dentist may observe:

  • A tooth that is discolored
  • X-rays that reveal a tooth problem
  • A fistulous tract, or persistent or recurring gum pimple

Additional testing done by your dentist:

  • X-rays provide an extremely clear picture of the health of the tooth
  • Thermal testing can evaluate sensitivity through a careful application of hot or cold temperatures
  • Percussion testing evaluates pain response through gentle tapping

You may have been noticing:

  • A broken or cracked tooth obviously decayed or damaged
  • A discolored tooth, especially a grey tooth
  • A “bubble” in your gums, like a pimple. It may or may not have ruptured, leaking pus that smells or tastes awful
  • Pain that shoots out from one tooth to your jaw or ear, leading to earache symptoms
  • Pain that prevents you from living your life without painkillers
  • Pain, sensitivity or swelling on one certain tooth
  • Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold liquids that lingers and is very painful

In some cases, an infected tooth that requires a root canal treatment has no symptoms at all that could be discerned by you. Only a dental professional can confirm the need to undergo root canal therapies. If you are experiencing pain that disrupts your life, talk to your dentist or endodontist immediately. Root canal treatments are designed to relieve the pain you’re experiencing now and to restore your tooth to full form and function. Don’t wait to get your life and smile back!


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