Underneath your tooth enamel is a soft inside layer of your tooth known as dental or tooth pulp. Your tooth’s pulp contains connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. When patients have untreated tooth decay or suffer from oral trauma, this inside layer of the tooth can become damaged, inflamed, or infected.
To treat damaged dental pulp, we perform an endodontic treatment known as a root canal. A root canal involves removing the infected dental pulp, cleaning and reshaping the tooth’s canals, and then filling the tooth up with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha.
The reason we need to remove the dental pulp entirely is that oral antibiotics will not cure tooth infections and the physical source of the infection needs to be removed for the tooth to heal. Otherwise, the infection will spread to other teeth or enter the bloodstream, which can spread and lead to multiple different complications. Teeth that have received root canals often are protected with dental crowns.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may have a tooth infection and require root canal treatment:
- Darkened/discolored tooth
- Pain, especially when eating
- Swelling of the gums, jaw, face, or lymph nodes
- An abscess & pus around the tooth
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Tooth sensitivity that lingers after having hot or cold food
- A chipped tooth or exposed nerve
If you need a root canal, contact us at Shook Family Dental today to schedule an appointment with Dr. John Shook.
Not only are root canals painless due to the anesthetic we use to numb your mouth, but they also relieve pain caused by tooth infections. The first step in a root canal is to perform a pulpectomy (removal of the dental pulp) and because this is the source of the infection, removing this from your tooth will result in immediate relief.
Once the anesthetic wears off, you may experience some mild pain or tenderness that lasts for a couple of days. You can alleviate this with anti-inflammatory pain medication.
If you do not get a root canal, you will need to have the tooth extracted. There is typically no other alternative to a root canal treatment and we don’t recommend having a tooth removed if you can save it.
The reason for this is that while a tooth extraction may seem like an easy and quick fix, it leads to many unintended consequences. These consequences include bone loss, shifting teeth, changes in your bite and facial structure, facial sagging, difficulty chewing and speaking, and an increased risk of additional tooth loss.
While some of these issues can be mitigated by replacing the missing tooth, only dental implants can preserve the jaw bone to prevent facial sagging and bone loss. Dental implants are much more expensive and a lengthier procedure (3-6 months) compared to a root canal.