Root canals are very common, standard procedures intended to treat an infected tooth. In fact, as many as 15 million root canals are performed in the United States each year. They are effective with a 95% success rate, and yet root canals are often misunderstood. In fact, many avoid this treatment out of fear, putting their smiles and their well-being at risk. Continue reading to learn why you may require a root canal and what exactly the procedure entails.
What Exactly is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth instead of extracting it. The procedure involves removing the pulp and nerve of the tooth. The inside of the tooth is then cleaned and sealed. If left untreated, the tissue around the tooth is likely to become infected and abscesses may form.
Even though they may have a bad rep of being painful, with modern day technology, it is typically no worse than getting a deep filling. Your dentist will use a local anesthesia to numb the entire area during the procedure.
What Causes Teeth to Become Infected?
There are several causes of an infected tooth. Here are some of the most common:
- Deep tooth decay: When cavities are left untreated, it could lead to an infection, extreme pain, and eventually tooth loss. It’s important to see your dentist regularly to address and treat tooth decay early on to avoid future issues.
- Large fillings: If you have a filling for a larger cavity, there’s a chance that inflammation or an infection could occur. This happens when the decay or filling reaches the pulp of the tooth.
- Cracks or chips: There’s a variety of ways that teeth can crack or chip. Smaller ones are usually simple to fix. Larger ones can lead to infection and require a root canal treatment.
What Are the Signs of Needing a Root Canal?
There are many common signs that could indicate that you need a root canal. You should see your dentist as soon as you can if you have any of the following symptoms:
- You’re experiencing tooth pain that gets worse when you chew or bite down on something.
- You experience temperature sensitivity. This could be anything from a dull ache to a sharp pain, especially if it lingers for an extended period of time.
- You notice a pimple-like bump on your gums or swelling of the face.
- Your tooth becomes discolored.
- You have extreme pain that is preventing you from sleeping, eating, or going to work.
With the proper care, a tooth that’s undergone a root canal treatment can last a lifetime. With modern dental technology, you’ll be back on your feet pain-free in no time!
About the Author
Dr. Dennis E. Stansbury has been practicing dentistry for 44 years. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery at Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas and regularly participates in a variety of continuing education courses. He’s a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association, and the Smith County Dental Society. Dr. Stansbury performs root canals as one of his many services. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (903) 561-1122.