Root Canal. Do I need it?

Many people that have a toothache fear the worst, that they will need a root canal. Just hearing the term “root canal” causes people to tense up and wish they were anywhere but in the dental chair. The truth is, root canal therapy is not as horrible as it sounds and that it is a very common procedure used to instantly relieve tooth pain and save the tooth.

The common symptoms that indicate you may need root canal therapy are:

1. Swelling
Swelling may occur around the tooth or deep in the jaw. Many patients will notice a bubble forming on the gum tissue that is filled with puss and blood. You should schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for treatment. Some patients may not have a bubble appear on the gum tissue, but will show signs of swelling in the jaw as if they were hit in the face with an object.

2. Constant, unforgiving tooth pain.
The pain might feel like a dull ache or more intense as if the tooth seems to throb with every heartbeat. This pain can wake you up at night.

3. Severe tooth pain that feels better when something cold is applied to the tooth and increases when something hot is applied to the tooth.

4. Tooth pain that seems to make your head, ear(s), eye(s), or neck hurt as well.

5. Pain when chewing or biting down on something. Even soft foods can seem to irritate the tooth causing soreness or severe pain.

6. Pain that lasts for a long time after something cold is consumed.

Why do I need root canal therapy?

Root canal therapy is needed when there is large tooth decay extending to the pulp (or nerve) of the tooth or trauma to a tooth. When this happens, the tooth can become very painful. In order to relieve the pain and save the tooth from having to be extracted, root canal therapy is recommended. When the pulp is removed during a root canal therapy it relieves the pain and eliminates the infection caused by bacteria.

When an irritated or infected (abscessed) tooth is left untreated, the tooth may become very painful. If there is active infection present, the bacteria that are causing the infection can cause swelling as well as destroy healthy bone tissue over time. Patients may also feel sick or weak because their body is trying to fight an infection, just like it would as if the infection occurred anywhere else in the body. If left untreated for too long, the tooth may not be able to be saved and the tooth will need to be extracted. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above or you have a tooth that just doesn't seem to feel quite right, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Should you experience severe tooth pain and over the counter pain relievers are not effective in relieving the pain or at least taking the edge off until your dental appointment, call your dentist or seek treatment at an emergency dentist. If you experience any swelling, seek treatment right away. If your dentist is unavailable, your physician can prescribe an antibiotic and a pain reliever until your dental appointment. Most importantly, the pain and swelling from an abscessed tooth will not go away on its own. The pain will get much worse and become more frequent, before it gets any better, if it gets better at all. This is why it is very important to have any problem tooth, no matter how minor the problem may seem, examined by your dentist right away.