How to Know If You Need a Root Canal

May 8, 2017

The eleventh annual celebration of Root Canal Awareness Week is May 7-13, 2017. This is a national effort in the dental community to raise awareness about root canal treatment. At PERFECT TEETH, we also like to use this time to spread the word that root canals should not be feared.

It’s true! Root canals have a reputation as being “the worst,” but today’s root canals are not as painful as they once were. No one wants a root canal, but unfortunately, the problems that lead to a root canal don’t go away on their own, so they are necessary. This is why Root Canal Awareness Week is so important. Knowing if you need a root canal is the first and best step toward relieving your tooth pain and saving your natural tooth.

What Is a Root Canal?

Root canal treatment is a procedure that repairs and saves a damaged tooth. It is performed when the pulp, the blood vessels and nerves inside your tooth, becomes infected or damaged. This damage can come from a cracked tooth, a deep cavity, repeated dental treatment to the tooth or trauma. The term “root canal” comes from cleaning of the canals inside the tooth’s root.

What you can expect during a root canal:

  1. Local anesthesia to numb the tooth.
  2. An opening is made through the top of the tooth down to the infected pulp.
  3. The infected pulp is removed from the canals and the area is cleaned with a disinfecting irrigation.
  4. The canals are filled with a rubbery material called gutta-percha that helps keep the canals free of infection or contamination.
  5. The tooth is sealed until a crown can be placed over the top.

Root Canal Pain (It’s Not So Bad)

Many people avoid root canals because they are afraid of the pain. In reality, any pain that people experience from a root canal is from the infected tooth. The procedure itself is painless. Root canals have improved drastically over time, and contrary to popular belief, a root canal is no more painful than a filling.

If you do have pain after your root canal, it usually peaks 12 to 24 hours after the procedure. Keep your head elevated while sleeping for the first couple of nights and take whatever pain medication that your dentist recommends.

Root Canal Symptoms

Be on the lookout for these root canal symptoms:

  • Severe tooth pain when chewing or with applied pressure
  • Painful, lingering sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • A persistent or recurring white, yellow, or red pimple on the gums
  • Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
  • Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums

How Do You Know If You Need a Root Canal?

Symptoms are not always present. This is why it’s important to see your dentist regularly. Your dentist can identify any symptoms and locate decay with an x-ray. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

Some dentists will do a root canal in one visit. Others will take two or three visits to complete it. And still others will refer you to an Endodontist – a dentist who specialized in root canal procedures. Depending on how many canals are affected, a root canal procedure can take anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes per visit. At PERFECT TEETH, we do our best to make you comfortable, take care of your teeth, and get you back on the road as soon as possible!

Don’t let your fears of a root canal stop you from saving your teeth! Contact a PERFECT TEETH dental office to schedule an appointment.