A root canal is a necessary dental procedure that is needed after bacteria from an infection develops inside the pulp of a tooth from either an injury or a severe cavity. The name is derived from the cleaning of the canals that reside inside the tooth’s root. It is pertinent to get treated as soon as possible to avoid complications such as an abscess, infection, bone loss or swelling that can extend to the face and neck. Many people feel unnecessary anxiety at the thought of having the procedure done. Here is an explanation of the treatment, and what symptoms suggest it is needed.
What is a root canal and how is it done?
It is an important procedure performed on a tooth that is either injured or deeply infected to salvage and repair it. A dentist or endodontist will administer a local anesthetic into the gums to numb the mouth. Any infection that is present, as well as the pulp and nerve, are removed, and the inside of the tooth is thoroughly disinfected and cleaned out. Topical antibiotics may be used to prevent reinfection from occurring. The tooth’s canals are filled with gutta-percha, a material that is similar to rubber. A special sealant is then used to fill the opening of the tooth and protect it from any further infection or damage. This sealant is temporary until a permanent filling or crown can be put on.
Why is the procedure performed?
When a tooth has become diseased or damaged, it needs to be treated as soon as possible. If a root canal is not performed, abscesses and tissue infections from bacteria can occur as well as more serious complications, such as bone loss around the tip of the root and tooth loss. After the treatment, the tooth does lose the ability to feel pressure, temperature and pain, but it is still functional.
What symptoms indicate a root canal is needed?
The first and most obvious sign is a severe toothache that worsens with applied pressure, such as biting down while eating. However, there are many other signs that indicate a patient needs a root canal. These include a tooth that has darkened, sensitivity to both hot and cold temperatures, a fever and gum inflammation that causes redness and swelling. Temperature sensitivity that is not relieved when cold or hot exposure is removed can be indicative of bacteria spreading into the nerves. If there is bacteria and an infection is present, then there may also be signs of an active infection and an abscess on the gum. An x-ray will be able to show when an infection has developed.
A root canal is often feared by patients, but this dental treatment is nothing to be afraid of; it is simple and can usually be done in just a few small visits. After having the infection removed and the tooth filled and sealed, the patient experiences no more pain and will feel back to normal quickly.
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