Tooth loss is a genuine fear, so it is no surprise that people who have either chipped their teeth or have a suspiciously deep cavity often express concern for losing their teeth over such unfortunate dental injuries. Although some extensive dental injuries cannot be reversed and will require the affected tooth to be extracted, that does not mean that your teeth will need the same. In an era of modern dental exposition, there is a solution for everything. And so, root canal therapies come as the saving grace to grossly damaged teeth.
What is root canal therapy?
An endodontic procedure strives to preserve the tooth structure and maintain functionality. A root canal therapy is a form of an endodontic procedure. A root canal therapy is a sequence of treatment modalities that are put into place with the intent of “reviving” an almost dead tooth. It involves the elimination of infection from the pulp of the tooth and the protection of the decontaminated tooth against microbial invasion in the future.
What does the procedure entail?
Grossly decayed or damaged teeth without proper dental intervention or teeth that have been subject to substandard oral hygiene conditions are most likely to require root canal therapy. The pulp is a living tissue within the tooth that houses the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue extending from the tooth crown to the tip of the tooth root, all of which determine the “viability” of a tooth.
During a root canal session, the pulp and its components are removed along with the decay. The dentist or a specialist known as an endodontist then proceeds to clean and disinfect the canals of the tooth, shapes them, and packs the tooth with a dental filling to seal the area. The renewed tooth will be fitted with a customized crown to support its weakened structure and integrity.
The primary goal of a root canal therapy is to preserve the tooth as much as possible, irrespective of the degree of damage (although, some teeth may be unsalvagable) and its functional capabilities in performing masticatory (eating) actions. The salvaged tooth is barricaded with a filling to prevent the further ingress of bacteria into the teeth. Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year through root canal treatments, alleviating pain, and making teeth healthy again.
How do I know if I need a root canal?
Many everyday dental complaints can be a sign that you need root canal therapy. While these problems may not inherently call for an RCT or any comprehensive treatment at all, there are several warning signs that could be alluding to a root canal treatment. Here are some red flags according to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) you need to look out for that could be telling you that it is time to get a root canal.
- Severe pain while chewing or biting
Pain is a guaranteed indicator that something is wrong with your tooth. If you are constantly driven crazy with bouts of pain while eating, chewing, or even light teeth grazing, and cannot find a good solution to do away with the incessant pain, it may be an issue to be looked into by your endodontist. Continuous episodes of pain, sometimes presenting as referred pain to the face, jaw, or other teeth may be a tell-tale sign that you need root canal therapy and fast!
- Chipped or cracked teeth
If you have recently met with an enormous force to the face either due to a brawl or a painful fall, you could have chipped your tooth and not even be aware of it. Tooth fracture can immediately put your teeth at a high risk of developing an infection, especially if you have decided not to get immediate help for it. An infection in the root of the tooth can spread rampantly via the bloodstream and lead to widespread infection and pain. Let your dentist inspect your dental injury as soon as possible to innately prevent the need for a root canal.
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
If you have experience sensitivity when you are relishing in an ice cream bar or when you are enthusiastically guzzling down on a steaming hot cup of coffee, you should start getting concerned. The root of sensitivity is usually a condition called pulpitis whereby the pulp has been damaged or interfered with in some way. If hypersensitivity persists for a long time even after the removal of stimuli, you may have developed pulpitis. Is so, you will need an urgent root canal done.
- Tooth abscess
A tooth abscess is an infection that develops when the pulp dies and a pus pocket is formed around the end of the root. Sometimes the abscess may even form a bump that looks like a pimple on the gum surfaces. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the other tissues of the mouth including the bones. Have your dentist examine your swollen gums to detect any stray inflammation that could require a root canal.
It is important for you to acknowledge the indicative signs that could be pointing to a root canal procedure, and as early as possible. Not only will early detection increase your chances of preventing further deterioration of your oral health, but the pain could also shoot up to ten folds if you do not do something about it. Contact your dentist today.