For many people just the mention of root canal work can send shivers down the spine. But, it should not be that way. Not today, when root canal work is safe, relatively painless, and very important for saving teeth in some patients. Let’s take a closer look at what root canal treatments can do for people today. You may be surprised at how much this procedure has changed over the years.
What Exactly is a Root Canal?
Root canal treatments are dental procedures that can often be used to save a person’s tooth when that tooth is infected or is severely decayed. The alternative is often extraction of the tooth.
During the root canal procedure, the dentist will remove the nerve and tooth pulp and carefully clean and seal the inside of the tooth. If this is not done, the area around the tooth is likely to become abscessed and infected.
Within the center of a tooth is a natural cavity or space. Inside this space is there the pulp is located as well as the tooth nerve. This space is commonly called the root canal. Many people are not aware of the fact that a tooth does not need its nerve in order to function. The nerve only provides sensation of cold or hot to the tooth, and you can live just fine without a tooth nerve. The tooth will continue to function.
If the tooth’s pulp or its nerve tissue becomes damaged, bacteria gets into the pulp chamber and this can lead to infections or to an abscessed tooth which is a pocket of pus that fills at the tooth root. If left untreated, the infection and abscess can spread past the roots and cause a great deal of damage as well as pain.
An infection can also cause problems such as swelling of the head, neck, and face; loss of bone mass near the root tip; drainage issues that can be very unpleasant as infected fluid may drain into the gums or even into the skin.
Signs and Symptoms
So, how does one know if a root canal is needed or not? The answer is it depends. There have been plenty of cases where the patient had no obvious signs or symptoms of a dental problem and did not know there was a problem until visiting the dentist. This is the exception, however. Most people will notice at least one of the following issues:
- Pain, often severe, when the person chews or applies pressure to a tooth.
- A tooth that has changed color, often turning a shade of brown.
- Unusual sensations of cold or hot on the tooth even after the cause of the sensations has been removed.
- Tenderness or swelling in the gums.
- A pimple or sore that is on the gums and will not go away.
If you have any of the above dental problems, make it a point to see your dentist soon. Only your dentist can determine if a root canal is the right treatment for you or not. The old days of having to worry about this kind of dental procedure are over. Get the dental help you need today.