Mention the term “root canal,” and people tend to visibly wince. While perhaps it’s not the most desirable way to spend an afternoon, getting a root canal does offer you a way to save a tooth that would otherwise need to be removed. And although a root canal may seem unpleasant, today’s technology and advances in pain management have made root canals extremely safe, easy, routine, and virtually painless.
More than 15 million root canals are performed every year in the United States. Even given those statistics, many remain dubious when it comes to root canals. The primary reason most dental patients fear them is the anticipation of pain. In fact, that unfounded fear causes some patients to endure an extreme amount of pain — and risk their health — due to an infected tooth.
The danger of an untreated tooth infection
Root canals become necessary for patients usually because of a severe infection of the tooth. Left untreated, an infected tooth can cause a whole slew of problems, and not all of them concern just your oral health. When you have an infection within your tooth, it affects the pulp.
The infection can spread to the surrounding tissue, including compromising the health of your gums and jawbone. Once the infection has spread, or an abscess has occurred, you risk compromising your overall health. The infection can get into your bloodstream and even cause issues with your heart.
The bottom line: Don’t let fear of this routine dental procedure cause you to risk your overall health.
Reasons for a root canal
There are several reasons for a root canal, but the most important one remains preserving your natural tooth, a far better and healthier choice. Getting a root canal also means preserving the surrounding teeth and helping you avoid further, ongoing dental work. Here are the most common causes of tooth infection and root canals:
Faulty or ill-fitting crown
Decay that’s severe and deep
Repeated dental procedures on the tooth that have brought no relief
A crack or damage to the tooth
Trauma to the tooth, or teeth, that may not be visible but may have injured the pulp
The biggest sign or symptom that you need a root canal is, obviously, severe pain. You may experience pain mostly when you’re eating or biting down, or the pain could be constant. Other signs include:
Discoloration of your tooth
Swollen and tender gum tissue near the base of the tooth
Pain and sensitivity to temperature, such as when sipping hot tea or eating ice cream
A round blister-like bump or eruption on the gum near the tooth causing pain — this is likely an abscess
How a root canal is performed
Your procedure begins with receiving a local anesthesia. Your dentist makes an opening in your tooth using a dental drill, allowing access to remove the pulp that’s infected and then to irrigate the inside chamber of the tooth, ensuring all infected pulp is removed.
After cleaning and drying the inside of your tooth, your dentist fills the chamber with a rubber-like material. A filling or crown seals the hole in your tooth. Once your root canal is completed, you’ll be amazed by your lack of discomfort.
Don’t forego treatment for a tooth infection. If you’re experiencing dental pain, contact MediDental Care in in Queens, Astoria, New York, right away for an appointment.