How Do You Know If You Need a Root Canal

Many people will need root canals at some point in their lives. According to the American Academy of Endodontists, 15 million teeth annually have endodontic care, including root canals. These treatments save teeth from extraction. If you think you need a root canal, you can treat your tooth painlessly and avoid losing a piece of your smile.

What Is a Root Canal?

Root canal therapy is a process that an endodontist uses to remove germs and inflamed pulp from inside a tooth. In doing so, they stop the infection from eating away at the inside of the bone. If too much of the bone erodes from the infection, even a root canal cannot save the tooth, and you will need extraction.

During a root canal, the endodontist drills the tooth’s biting surface to admit the tiny files needed to clean the interior. Some endodontists use tiny tools to clean out the canals. But these tools can break off inside the tooth. Upgrades to endodontic technology allow doctors to minimize the use of files in favor of options that don’t pose a risk of breakage.

One of the latest tools of the trade is the Gentlewave system, which does not require breakable physical tools. Instead, it uses sound waves and water movement to clean the root canals and remove infected pulp, nerves, and germs. This system thoroughly cleans out canals, allowing doctors to finish a root canal in a single visit in most cases. It also reaches into areas where files cannot access, helping to prevent root canal failures.

Once the endodontist cleans the canals, they fill the tooth with adhesive and gutta percha to help the tooth retain its shape. A temporary filling covers the top of the tooth until you can get a permanent dental restoration, such as a crown.

Since endodontists are trained to prevent pain in their patients, root canal therapy is painless.

What Does a Root Canal Treat?

Root canal therapy treats several conditions that involve the exposure of the tooth’s interior to external bacteria. If you have any of the following issues, you may need a root canal:

When an endodontist recommends a root canal for any of the above problems, they do so because it is your only chance to save the tooth and halt the spread of the infection to other parts of your body through the bloodstream.

How Do You Know If You Need a Root Canal?

You will likely have at least one or more common symptoms if you need a root canal. These signs indicate problems inside the tooth that require endodontic care and treatment. When you get a root canal, you’ll have a treatment method that corrects the source of your pain, swelling, and sensitivity for lasting relief.

Pain in a Tooth

Tooth pain can mean one of several problems. You could have gum disease that causes referred pain, a cavity that needs filling, or an infection inside your canals. You need to contact a dental professional for tooth pain to get the correct diagnosis and treatment options.

Dentists can fill cavities or treat gum disease. However, you’ll need an endodontist if you have an infection in your tooth. These experts fix tooth pain that comes from damage to the pulp. They can diagnose tooth pain and tell you if endodontic root canal therapy can correct it.

Localized Swelling or Discoloration on the Gums

Swelling in one area of your gums or discoloration of the gums indicates a possible infection in the tooth. You may even feel like you have a pimple on your gums. Do not pop it. Go to an endodontist for an exam to determine if you have a tooth infection that root canal therapy or endodontic surgery can remove.

New Sensitivity to Hot and Cold Foods and Drinks

One of the biggest complaints among patients who have root canals performed is a new sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, especially around a single tooth or area of your mouth. Sensitivity associated with needing a root canal typically lasts up to a minute after removing the offender from your mouth. So, if you still feel pain after you put down your ice cream spoon or finish your coffee, you might need a root canal.

Tooth Discoloration

Deep decay inside a tooth can cause discoloration of that tooth. This type of discoloration is intrinsic, meaning it starts inside the tooth. A root canal can fix the infection in the tooth. If you want to fix the cosmetic look of the tooth, see your dentist about getting a veneer or bonding to cover the discolored tooth.

Traumatic Tooth Injury or Cracked Tooth

Traumatic injuries or cracked teeth often need root canal therapy to preserve the tooth. Breaks in the tooth that open the pulp to bacteria need the canals cleaned out to prevent infection and bone loss, ultimately leading to tooth loss. If you have a cracked or broken tooth, get to an endodontist as soon as possible for treatment.

What Should You Do If You Think You Need a Root Canal?

If you think you need a root canal, your first step is to contact an endodontist for an exam. After looking at your teeth and taking images of the area, they will let you know if root canal therapy or another form of endodontic care will help. The sooner you schedule your root canal, the faster you’ll find pain relief and avoid tooth extraction.

Reach Out to Southern Endodontic Specialists in Houma or Thibodaux for Root Canal Therapy

If you need a root canal, save your tooth by getting an evaluation from an endodontist as soon as possible. You can put off a root canal for too long. Waiting increases the risk that internal decay leads to irreparable damage requiring you to pull the tooth. A root canal painlessly saves your tooth and corrects discomfort and other symptoms. Please schedule your appointment with one of our doctors at Southern Endodontics Specialists at our Houma or Thibodaux locations.