Present and past tooth pain indicate an active infection. Depending on the patient’s dental health and the tooth itself, the infection will rapidly grow, or it will slowly grow and eat at the root until the entire tooth is damaged and destroyed.
The quicker you can schedule a root canal, the better.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is performed when the soft tissue, or pulp, becomes infected or inflamed due to trauma, chips, cracks, or decay. An untreated cavity also causes the nerves and connective tissue inside the root to become infected.
During a root canal, a patient is under local anesthetic while the dentist removes the inflamed pulp of the tooth. The roots are filled with a specific filing material. Once the tooth is settled (a few weeks after the procedure), the dentist places a crown on the tooth – this restores the function and strength of your tooth.
Signs You Need a Root Canal
Signs of pulp damage vary from pain and sensitivity to no physical symptoms at all. Some of the most common signs of an infection or damaged tooth include:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and food
- Pain when chewing or biting down
- Regular or spontaneous pain
- Discoloration in the structure of the tooth
- Loosening of the tooth
- Facial swelling
- Swelling or tenderness in the area surrounding the infected tooth
- Visible infection, such as pus around the tooth
Routine dental check-ups and x-rays are the best way to diagnose signs and symptoms of an infected tooth that needs root canal treatment.
Why You Should Never Delay a Root Canal
It’s not uncommon for patients to delay root canals. Root canals have a reputation for being painful. While this depends on the patient and condition of the situation, the procedure is often not as painful as it’s given credit. Due to the local anesthetic, there’s very little discomfort during the procedure.
When you delay a root canal, you risk unnecessary bacteria growing around the nerve tissue. Left untreated, several complications are likely to occur.
Systemic inflammation – when an infected tooth causes inflammation to spread throughout the body. This condition leads to an increased risk of heart problems and a stroke.
Pressure and swelling – As infection spreads, more pain and pressure occur in the face, neck, and head. Depending on the area of the infection, that pressure and swelling can happen in various areas.
Abscess – this happens when the infection forms a pocket of pus at the end of the tooth’s root. An abscessed tooth leads to emergency dental care.
Drainage – when the bacteria overwhelm the tooth, a hole forms on the side of it. This allows the infection to move (or drain) into the gums, cheek, skin, and bloodstream – if not caught in time. If the infection moves into the bloodstream, a life-threatening condition known as sepsis occurs.
Tooth and bone loss – If an infection sits too long, bacteria settle in the root causing bone loss. Severe root decay occurs, and the tooth is lost.
Don’t Wait for A Root Canal
Whether you’re currently experiencing tooth pain or sporadically noticing problems, it’s time to schedule an exam for a root canal. Contact our team today to schedule an appointment at one of our six North Shore and Brookline area locations. Our skilled endodontic team offers state-of-the-art technology that ensures an efficient procedure.