Root canals unfairly get a bad reputation. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a patient groan at the prospect of a root canal. “I heard root canals are so painful,” says the patient. The reality is that the root canal therapy/root canal treatment is the “good guy” and is what brings relief to the patient. By removing the nerve from the tooth and filling the canals with a material called gutta percha, all sensation to the tooth has been eliminated.
If you have an active infection (abscess), antibiotics may mask the symptoms; however, once the antibiotics have run their course, the infection will return. The only way to remove the infection is either with a root canal or by extracting tooth (which should be the option of last resort).
Do you have hot or cold sensitivity that lingers for longer than 5-10 seconds? Do you have a “pimple” on your gums? Does it hurt when you tap on your tooth with your finger? Do you have a throbbing pain in your tooth that is worse when you lie down? Does it feel like your tooth has a “pulse”? If you have any of these symptoms, you likely need a root canal.
Causes of Root Canals
Deep decay, trauma, cracked teeth
“My dentist told me that I need a root canal, but I’m not in any pain.” It can be confusing because a tooth in need of a root canal does not always show symptoms to the patient. Radiographs (x-rays) can show an infection at the tip of the root long before a tooth shows any sign of the pain to the patient. Here at Dr. King’s Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we feel that prevention and early detection is the best way to keep a patient’s mouth healthy and out of pain. That is why we take comprehensive diagnostic radiographs for all new and existing patients. Even if a patient is not in any pain, we still stress the need for a root canal for three reasons. First, as the nerve dies, it liquifies and exits through the tip of the root and into the bone. Because the pH of the liquified nerve is so acidic, it essentially eats a hole in the bone. The second reason is that having a chronic infection in the mouth can lead to very serious problems. While it is extremely rare, upper molars with an infection of the nerve can cause death as the infection spreads to the brain. The final reason is that eventually the patient will experience pain from the infection, thus prevention of this pain by having a root canal performed prior to is the ideal scenario.
Dr. King routinely performs root canal treatment on his patients. He uses a state of the art microscope that helps to identify otherwise hidden canals within the tooth allowing for optimal debridement of the canalS. Dr. King and his staff also educate his patients on the risks of untreated decay and cracked teeth. The longer that a tooth is cracked, the more likely root canal therapy becomes. Likewise, once decay is inside the tooth, it will continue to spread until it reaches the innermost portion of the tooth (the nerve), at which time the patient will experience pain. If you have any of the above symptoms, please call our office at 757-464-6228.