Despite their bad reputation, root canals are tooth-saving procedures that alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by damaged or diseased soft tissue within a tooth. Root canals are used to treat deeply damaged, infected, or inflamed teeth. A root canal can be a good option to treat the pain and sensitivity that comes with an infection or damage while avoiding a tooth extraction.
The most common reason you might need a root canal is an infection in the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is soft tissue within the hard outer layers of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. The pulp helps the tooth to grow and develop, but once a tooth is fully formed, the tooth can survive even if the pulp is removed. Removing inflamed or infected pulp will alleviate pain and sensitivity and prevent more damage and decay.
Common Causes of an Infected or Damaged Tooth
The most common reasons for a root canal are:
- Infection of the soft tissue inside the tooth (pulp)
- Inflammation of the soft tissue
- Damage such as significant cracks or chips
- Extensive dental procedures to a particular tooth
Most often, infection and inflammation of the pulp are a result of tooth decay. When the outer layers of the tooth wear away as a result of decay, the inner pulp is exposed to bacteria. This soft tissue can become infected, causing inflammation, pain, and soreness. The infection can progress to an abscess, which can lead to even more pain and can be dangerous if left untreated.
Another common reason for a root canal is damage. Damage can be a result of an injury or extensive dental work on a tooth. Similar to decay, if the damage exposes the pulp to bacteria, you can be at risk for infection and inflammation.
Signs You Have a Tooth Abscess
An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms as your body’s immune reaction to an infection. This can occur below the root or to the side of your tooth, within your gums.
Signs of a tooth abscess include significant persistent pain in and around the tooth. The pain may increase over time and radiate to the surrounding area, including the jaw, ear, or neck. Sensitivity to temperatures and pressure are also common symptoms. As an abscess progresses, you may experience swelling, fever, or swollen lymph nodes.
If you experience any early symptoms of an infection or tooth abscess, make an appointment with your dentist immediately. If you develop a fever or difficulty breathing or swallowing along with these symptoms, it may be an emergency. If you cannot get to your dentist immediately, go to the emergency room.
Reasons a Root Canal is Better Than an Extraction
Another treatment for these conditions is tooth extraction. When your tooth is removed, you may be a candidate for an implant or bridge to replace the missing tooth. However, these options are simply not as good as your natural tooth.
Natural teeth are able to hold up to wear and tear better than artificial options, as they can heal themselves. They are easier to maintain and more comfortable. When possible, it is better to choose the more conservative option of a root canal to retain your tooth. Once a crown or filling is placed over the area that was treated, it will look and function just like normal.
Get Treatment as Soon as Possible
Infection, inflammation, and abscesses can be uncomfortable, and you may be eager to get relief. If left untreated, it can become a life-threatening emergency. Early treatment, including a root canal, can alleviate pain, clear the infection, and save your tooth. The sooner you seek treatment, the more chance you have of saving your tooth.
If you are suffering from tooth pain or sensitivity, don’t wait. Call Elite Dental & Denture to schedule an appointment today.