If teeth are not properly cared for, a buildup of plaque can start to damage the teeth and gums. This can cause various conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay. When bacteria starts to damage the inside of a tooth known as the root canal system, then root canal treatment will be necessary to save the tooth and prevent any further damage.
Any tooth pain should be checked out by your dentist as soon as possible. When caught early, gum disease and tooth decay can be treated without surgery in most circumstances. However, if left too late, then surgery may be the only option in order to save the tooth or teeth.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is the area inside the part of the tooth that attaches it to the jaw – the root. Teeth are made up of several materials:
- Enamel – the hard coating the covers the outside of a tooth
- Dentine – a softer material that forms most of the tooth and supports the enamel
- Cementum – the hard coat of the root
- Dental pulp – the soft tissue in the middle of a tooth
Dental pulp is found throughout the tooth from the center of the crown right down to the end of off the root. The front teeth have one root, and the back teeth (premolars and molars) have two to three roots.
What are the symptoms of a dental pulp infection in the root canal?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have a bacterial infection in your tooth and root canal treatment may be necessary:
- Pain and sensitivity when drinking or eating hot or cold foods and beverages
- Pain when biting or chewing
- A loose tooth or teeth
If there is an infection, these symptoms may gradually disappear as the dental pulp dies. You may think the infection has healed, but usually the infection has spread into the root canal system, eventually causing:
- Pain when biting or chewing again
- Swollen and sore gums around the affected tooth or teeth
- Pus coming from the affected tooth or teeth
- Swelling around the mouth and face
- The affected tooth or teeth becoming darker
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important you schedule a visit to your dentist as soon as possible.
When is root canal treatment necessary?
Damage caused by bacteria to the outer layers of a tooth (tooth decay) can be treated without the need for surgery, such as the use of fillings. However, when bacteria begins to damage the dental pulp inside of a tooth or teeth, a root canal treatment will be needed to save the tooth and stop the bacteria from causing any further damage.
If left untreated, bacteria can cause the tooth to die, and an infection can spread into the jawbone.
What does root canal treatment involve?
If a bacterial infection in the dental pulp is found after an X-ray, then a decision will be made on how to best treat the infection. If the tooth can be saved and does not need to be extracted, then you can expect the following to happen:
- Sedation – you will receive a form of sedation. This can range from a local anesthetic to numb the area being treated, to complete sedation in which you will be asleep throughout the entire procedure.
- Cleaning – the inside of your tooth will be cleaned to remove all signs of bacteria and bacterial infection.
- Filling – once the inside of the tooth has been cleaned, the space will be filled with a material suitable for you.
- Sealing – The tooth will then be filled using a suitable material which will prevent bacteria from re-entering the tooth.
- Pain medication – after your treatment is finished, you may experience some mild pain and swelling. You will be prescribed pain medication to take until you have completely healed.
How long does root canal treatment take?
As each patient’s treatment needs are different, so is the time needed for treatment. A root canal treatment can take several hours, and in many cases, several visits will be necessary.
As with all dental treatments, prevention is always better than cure. You should always take care to look after your teeth as best as you can by brushing twice daily and flossing at least once daily. This is to ensure plaque doesn’t build up around your teeth and gums which can lead to various diseases.
Schedule an appointment with Modern Family Dentists LLC as soon as you experience any form of tooth or gum pain. Our friendly and professional service are what makes us so popular in and around the Kenosha area. We’re always happy to discuss your needs and options, and offer a variety of financing options so you’ll never need to forego treatment or suffer unnecessarily. If tooth pain has been bothering you, call us today – we’ll have no smiling again sooner than you think. And remember – Smiles change Outcomes.