Root canal therapy is also known as endodontics. It is performed when the inner pulp chamber of a tooth becomes infected. The chamber itself is called a root canal. The procedure is non-invasive and will relieve pain and dangers associated with infection without requiring an extraction. During a root canal, the gum area is numbed and the dentist removes the infected pulp with a drill. Once the infected pulp is completely removed, inert material is inserted into the tooth as a replacement. Although root canal therapy has received a bad reputation for being a lengthy and uncomfortable procedure, the truth is that they have never been less painful or easy to perform. Advancements in modern dentistry have allowed root canal therapy to be simple, safe, and effective.
What happens if I wait too long to get a root canal?
Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. This occurs when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the tooth. In addition to an abscess, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause:
- Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face
- Bone loss around the tip of the root
- Drainage problems extending outward from the tooth
What damages a tooth’s nerve in the first place?
Nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.
What are the signs that a root canal is needed?
Sometimes there are no symptoms present, but common signs include:
- Throbbing pain that wakes you up at night
- Constant, dull ache
- Pain when chewing or applying pressure
- Sensitivity or pain to hot and cold temperatures
- Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
- Presence of a dental abscess or recurring pimple on the gums
- Swollen and tender gums