What is a Root Canal?
The term “root canal” means a nerve chamber and a system of interconnected canals inside a tooth. It contains pulp, nerves, and blood vessels. These allow your tooth to stay alive inside your jaw bone and gums. So all teeth roots have a root canal, some have more than one.
When a root canal becomes infected or inflamed, it needs a root canal treatment to save the tooth. The procedure includes removal of the decay and contents of the entire canal system, disinfection and sealing with root canal material.
Professionals often apply local anesthesia inside your mouth to make it numb. This allows the procedure to go smoothly without any discomfort.
If left untreated, the infection might spread to other teeth and other parts of your body. Your tooth may turn black or yellow, and you’re more at risk to experience heightened symptoms, like pain.
The alternative to a root canal procedure is tooth extraction. But that can cause more pain, more expenses down the road, and you’ll lose the health benefits of your natural tooth.
What causes a tooth to get infected?
Common causes for root canal infections include:
- Dental decay (cavities) that spreads beneath the enamel (surface) layer and into the nerve chamber.
- Damage, like chips and cracks, that exposes the inner layer of your tooth, allowing harmful bacteria inside.
- Dental trauma, even if there aren’t visible signs.
- Repeated dental treatments to a tooth.
How do you know if you need a root canal?
Common symptoms you need a root canal include:
- Tooth pain that it is persistent or comes and goes repeatedly
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Tooth discoloration
- Swollen gums
- Pain when you touch or chew on the tooth
- Chips or cracks on your tooth
How painful is a root canal?
A root canal is a major dental procedure. You may experience some slight discomfort, just as you would with a dental filling. However, it shouldn’t be painful. A local anesthetic like Lidocaine, commonly known as Novocaine, will keep your tooth and surrounding area numb throughout the whole procedure.
As the anesthetic wears off when you get home, you may feel some discomfort. You can manage the pain with over-the-counter pain medication like Advil.
The real pain comes from not getting it treated.
An untreated infected tooth can result in excruciating pain and result in an emergency root canal, which is way more costly.
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