Are You in Pain?
Root Canals End Toothaches and Save Teeth
There’s nothing more debilitating than a severe toothache. When you have ceaseless, throbbing pain in one of your teeth, all your routines come to a screeching halt. You can’t eat, you can’t work—and you probably need root canal therapy.
Although not every toothache indicates an infected tooth, severe unrelenting toothaches usually mean that a cavity has formed and the infection has reached the pulp chamber of the tooth. When this happens, the only way to remove the infection and save the tooth is with endodontic treatment, also called a root canal.
When is a Root Canal Needed?
The human tooth has three sections, essentially. The outer portion of the tooth is the enamel, which is extremely hard and resistant to bacteria. Underneath the enamel is a layer of dentin. Dentin is not as hard as enamel, and it may hurt when a cavity reaches this level. In the middle of the tooth, the pulp chamber houses all the living tissues of a tooth: blood vessels, nerve endings, and connective tissues.
When a cavity or crack only extends into the enamel and dentin, a dental filling can be performed to stop the decay and restore the structure of the tooth. When the cavity extends into the pulp chamber, however, we consider that an infected tooth, and root canal therapy becomes necessary.
What is Root Canal Therapy?
A root canal treatment involves several discrete steps. We suspect these treatments have a bad reputation because they take longer to perform than simple fillings. They may take up a bit more of your time, but endodontic therapy is actually one of the most beneficial treatments we provide. Root canals save teeth!
Step 1: Drill into the tooth and remove decayed tooth matter and bacteria.
Step 2: Remove all the living tissues from the pulp chamber of the tooth.
Step 3: Shape and sanitize the inside surfaces of the tooth and the canals that extend into the roots.
Step 4: Fill the tooth with a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha and dental cement.
Step 5: Finish with a dental filling or dental crown, depending on how much of the tooth structure has been damaged.
Are Root Canals Always Necessary?
If you have a deep cavity or crack that extends into the inside of the tooth, you really do need a root canal. Whether you are experiencing a toothache at the time or not—nothing can remove the infection and preserve the tooth except a root canal.
If an infected or badly damaged tooth is neglected, it will eventually worsen to the point at which the tooth can no longer be saved. Either too much of the tooth will be destroyed, or the infection will spread and create an abscess in the soft tissue surrounding the tooth.
An abscess is a pocket of bacteria that forms to contain the infection and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body. If you ever develop facial swelling and fever in conjunction with a toothache, you probably have an abscess and need to get to a hospital as soon as possible. Abscesses are no joke; people have died from infections that started in a tooth and quickly spread to other parts of the body. If a tooth infection is neglected to the point that an abscess develops, an extraction becomes necessary. You don’t want this to happen to you.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
Root canal appointments may take longer than check-ups and fillings, but we do everything we can to make sure you are comfortable. We have a “no pain” policy at LifeSmile Dental Care, which means we never begin treatment until we are certain your nerve block is successful. If your anesthetic injection is slow to take effect, we will wait as long as it takes or take further measures to ensure you feel no discomfort during the procedure.
Depending on the tooth, some root canals may require two appointments. We should be able to tell you which type of root canal you can expect after examining your dental x-rays during your initial consultation.
Most patients experience great relief after their root canal treatment is complete. With the infection and nerve endings removed, you should never experience any pain in the tooth again. Some patients may have soreness in the jaw or near the tooth for a day or so after the procedure; this is usually the result of holding the mouth open for the long appointment and should not be cause for concern.
Contact Us to Learn More
If you have questions about restorative treatments in general or an upcoming root canal treatment, please call our Hazelwood, MO office (314) 433-5489 or our Kirkwood, MO office (314) 328-0408 to learn more.