If you have a toothache, you may be wondering if you need a root canal. A root canal is a dental treatment that involves the removal of soft tissue from inside the tooth. This tissue, which is called the pulp, contains the nerves, blood supply, and connective tissue of the tooth.
If the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, the damaged nerves of the tissue can cause severe pain and sensitivity. Your dentist may suggest a root canal to save your tooth from extraction and prevent further complications.
Here is a bit of information about root canal procedures to help you better understand them.
How Do You Know If You Need a Root Canal?
Some common signs that you need root canal therapy are:
- Persistent or throbbing pain in your tooth or jaw
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks
- Swelling or tenderness in your gums
- Discoloration or darkening of your tooth
- A pimple-like bump on your gums near the affected tooth
- Fever or general malaise
Still, not all cases of pulp infection or damage have obvious symptoms. Sometimes, the only way to detect a problem is through an X-ray or a dental exam.
What Causes Pulp Infection or Damage?
Some common causes of pulp damage are:
- Tooth decay or cavities that reach the pulp
- Cracks or chips in your tooth that expose the pulp
- Trauma or injury to your tooth that damages the pulp
- Repeated dental procedures on the same tooth that weaken the pulp
- Gingival infections that spread to the pulp
A root canal can prevent complications by removing the source of infection or damage and sealing the tooth with a filling or a crown.
How Is a Root Canal Done?
A root canal is usually done in one or two visits to your dentist. The dentist:
- Numbs your tooth and the surrounding area with local anesthesia.
- Makes a small opening in the top of your tooth and uses special instruments to remove the pulp from the pulp chamber and the root canals.
- Cleans and disinfects the inside of your tooth and fills it with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha.
- Seals the opening with a temporary filling and takes an impression of your tooth for a permanent restoration.
- Places a permanent filling or a crown on your tooth to protect it from further damage and restore its shape and function.
To learn more about root canal procedures, schedule a consultation with a dentist in your local area.