Article at a Glance
- May 6-12th is Root Canal Awareness Week.
- A root canal treats a severe infection that has reached the pulp of the tooth in order to save it.
- Root canals are less painful and less expensive than tooth extractions.
- If you have pain or sensitivity in a tooth, call your dentist to be evaluated as soon as possible because a root canal could save your tooth.
This week is Root Canal Awareness Week. For the 12th year, this week is set aside to highlight endodontists and the work they do to save teeth. It’s the perfect time to explore how root canals can help relieve tooth pain and save teeth.
What is a Root Canal?
When an infection reaches the innermost tissue of the tooth, the pulp, it can cause significant problems if it’s not treated. Also known as endodontic therapy, a root canal is the way to repair an infected, damaged, or severely decayed tooth. A root canal eliminates infection or decay, prevents future infections, and ultimately saves your tooth.
What are the Benefits of a Root Canal?
You may have heard jokes about root canals being extremely painful and miserable experiences. The truth is, root canals are less painful than having the tooth extracted and many people describe the process as painless. There are real benefits to saving your tooth with a root canal instead of extracting it.
- Modern medicine has provided anesthesia, techniques, and equipment that make root canals a less painful option than extraction.
- Root canals are cheaper and less time-consuming than extractions. Tooth extractions require multiple follow-ups and expensive dentures, bridges, or implants.
- Crowns look and function like natural teeth, so you keep your smile intact with a root canal.
The Root Canal Procedure
Only your dentist can determine if you need a root canal. They will evaluate the tooth and use x-rays to determine the need for a root canal.
- The area around the tooth would be numbed with local anesthetic.
- A small opening is made in the crown of the affected tooth.
- Root canal files are used to clean out the canals and remove infected pulp to prevent the spread of infection and shape the space for filling.
- The canals will be flushed to remove any debris.
- A permanent material, called gutta-percha, will be used to fill the canals.
- A post may be placed for additional support if the remaining tooth is too weak.
- The opening is sealed with a filling and then capped with a new crown.
After a root canal, you should be able to eat, speak, and otherwise use the tooth normally. There may be some sensitivity for a few days after the root canal, especially if you had pain prior to the procedure. Call your dentist for a follow-up if your pain lasts more than two days.
When Should I Call My Dentist?
Putting off treatment can lead to more pain and bigger problems, especially in the case of a severe infection or abscess. If you are having pain or sensitivity in a tooth, call your dentist as soon as possible to be examined. There are usually noticeable symptoms of infection or the damage:
- Prolonged or increased sensitivity to heat, cold, or pressure.
- Discoloration of the tooth or a visible cavity.
- A foul taste in your mouth, even after brushing your teeth.
- Swollen or tender lymph nodes can indicate an infection in your mouth.
- Pus draining into your mouth from your teeth or around your gums.
- Injuries to your mouth and jaw could result in a cracked tooth.
Keep in mind that sometimes there are no symptoms to indicate an infection. However, keeping up with regular appointments will allow your dentist to catch signs of infection on examination. You should see a dentist every six months for an exam and professional teeth cleaning.
If you are having pain or sensitivity in a tooth or you’re due for a check-up, contact the Jefferson Dental Care clinic nearest you to make an appointment. Our professional, friendly team is happy to help.