The term “Root Canal” maybe the among the most dreaded phrase known to humans. Patients often come to our office with fear in their eyes asking “Do I need a root canal?” While we are not sure exactly where this fear comes from. It could just be from what we’ve been exposed to from Hollywood previously.
In reality, nearly all patients who actually get a root canal tell us that “it wasn’t bad.” The patients are completely anesthetized. It takes about an hour, after which patients usually leave our office feeling much better than when they came in having pain.
So, What is a Root canal?
Simply put, the root canal procedure disinfects the roots of the teeth. When the nerves inside a tooth are either infected, not functioning normally, or have any other irreversible damage they should be removed completely from the tooth. The root canal procedure will remove all the tissue inside of the roots, the tooth roots are also disinfected and sealed preventing future bacteria from cohabiting the spaces inside of the tooth.
Top 5 signs you may need a root canal
Now that you’re no longer afraid of the phrase “root canal,” we’ll discuss the top 5 signs that your tooth may require a root canal. Please be advised this information is not medical advice. Seek a professional opinion from a dentist if you suspect that your teeth are having dental issues.
1. You See a Pimple Like Blister next to your tooth
This “pimple” appearing near the affected tooth is called a Fistula. When the tooth is infected, the infection may find a way to drain through the gums creating a fistula. The tooth often does not hurt because infection is draining and the nerve inside the tooth has died off. The root canal procedure will disinfect the tooth helping this fistula heal. Often a prescription for antibiotics is needed to remove the infection completely.
2. A Deep Tooth Cavity
Once a tooth cavity penetrates into the nerve a root canal is most certainly needed. The bacteria from the tooth cavity entering the nerve chamber infects the nerve tissue. This often causes pain, necessitating an emergency root canal procedure for relief. Sometimes the nerve dies off quickly, then the patient doesn’t feel pain as infection grows inside of the tooth. At this point it’s too late to save the tooth with just a dental filling because the nerve is infected by the tooth cavity.
It’s recommended to visit the dentist every six months for a routine check-up to catch cavities early before a root canal is needed.
3. Severe Tooth Pain
When the tooth is causing severe pain, maybe it’s throbbing frequently. The tooth pain maybe worse when person is lying down to sleep. Usually pain medications like Tylenol, Aspirin, Aleve or Advil will not help this pain. The only way to relive pain in this situation maybe by having a root canal procedure on the tooth. This pain is typically severe enough to force even the most hesitant patients to come into visit an emergency dentist in a hurry.
4. Severe Prolonged Sensitivity to Hot and Cold
Lingering sensitivity to hot and/or cold lasting for 15 seconds or longer indicates there’s irreversible damage to the nerve tissue inside of the tooth. This usually means a root canal is necessary to remove the affected nerve tissue.
5. Swollen painfull gums
Swollen gums usually indicate the presence of some type of a bacterial infection. This could be a gum infection like gingivitis or periodontitis. Gum abscess could also be due to an infection from the tooth.
Swollen gums don’t necessarily indicate that a root canal is needed. An abscess may form in the gums when an infection is present. A dentist will be able to determine the source of infection for the swollen gums.