Root canals do much more than fix painful teeth. In fact, you may not even have pain but still need a root canal. You might have an infection inside a tooth that doesn’t cause pain, but skipping a recommended root canal, in this case, could lead to tooth loss or a serious infection. Always follow your endodontist’s recommendations for whether you need a root canal because they only suggest treatments that can help you keep your natural teeth.
Reasons You May Need a Root Canal
The reasons for needing a root canal are many and don’t always require you to have pain. In fact, you may notice painless symptoms such as a pimple on the gums, a cracked tooth, or tooth discoloration instead of pain. The following are common situations in which endodontists typically recommend that patients get root canals.
Cracked or Chipped Tooth
A crack or chip allows germs to get into the normally sealed canals of a tooth. Once inside the tooth, those germs can infect the pulp. In many cases, the infection causes pain and discomfort, but you may not feel pain in the early stages as the infection grows. Endodontists often treat cracked teeth with root canals to avoid abscesses and spreading infections. They may recommend that you have this procedure as part of care for a cracked tooth even if you don’t yet feel pain.
After dental or endodontic treatment, a crown strengthens and protects a tooth from additional germ invasion. However, if you lose a crown or have it damaged, your tooth becomes susceptible to cracking or bacterial invasion. If you have a damaged crown, the inside of the tooth may have even more harm from an infection.
You might need root canal therapy if you have a damaged crown that lets germs get inside the deepest parts of your tooth. As with a crack, you may not have pain but still need treatment to prevent severe infections.
Deep dental decay surpasses the ability of a filling to fix, which may require root canal therapy. Extensive decay introduces bacteria into the canals that hold the tooth’s pulp, where the germs can cause infection and pulp damage.
Untreated decay can lead to bone loss inside the tooth, requiring extraction. If your dentist notices severe decay in a tooth that requires root canal treatment, get to an endodontist for care as soon as possible, regardless of your pain level.
What Is a Root Canal and How Does It Help Preserve a Tooth?
Root canals preserve teeth by extracting infected pulp and germs, preventing infection from spreading inside the tooth. Because infections in a tooth cause pain and can spread to other parts of the mouth or through the bloodstream to the organs, getting a root canal to stop the infection can help you stay healthy.
An infection inside your tooth’s root canals can destroy the bone structure. Too much bone loss may require extraction of the tooth. So, if you want to keep your natural smile, get a root canal as soon as possible if your dentist or endodontist recommends it. Don’t let your pain or lack of pain determine when you schedule treatment.
Does a Root Canal Hurt?
Root canal therapy does not cause pain. In fact, some endodontists, like our doctors at Southern Endodontic Specialists, use the GentleWave system that reduces the number of visits required and the chances for painful complications. The system uses sound and fluid waves to clean out your tooth painlessly.
Even if you don’t have pain before the root canal, the root canal itself does not cause any pain because you will have a local numbing agent applied to your mouth. After the anesthesia wears off, you’ll likely only have minor discomfort as your tooth heals over the next few days.
How to Talk to Your Endodontist About Root Canal Therapy
If your dentist suggests that you need a root canal, make an appointment with an endodontist for an evaluation and treatment. Dentists treat the exterior parts of the teeth, while endodontists care for the pulp and internal tooth structures. The latter spend their careers working to save teeth from loss by performing root canals and endodontic surgery. Many endodontists dedicate much of their time to doing root canals, which includes performing them multiple times a week, making the doctors well-practiced in this procedure. Endodontists know exactly when their patients need root canals to protect teeth from loss.
When you visit an endodontist for a consultation, make sure to ask if they recommend a root canal for you. If they do, take their advice seriously because it could save your tooth.
Other questions to ask before getting a root canal include:
- How do I prepare for the procedure?
- Will I need a crown over the tooth after a root canal?
- How many visits will the root canal require?
- Do I need a root canal if I have no pain?
- Are there any alternatives to root canal therapy for me?
Remember that the answers your endodontist gives you will depend on your tooth’s health and condition. Personalized advice and answers to your questions should always take precedence over generalized suggestions you may find online.