When the inside of a tooth becomes infected, it can cause significant pain and discomfort. There are two options: extract the tooth (leaving a noticeable gap) or save the tooth with endodontic treatment, otherwise known as a root canal.
A root canal involves removing the infected tooth material and sealing off the tooth. The procedure not only provides significant relief from pain, but also protects against future infection. After a root canal, your tooth will look and function like all of your other healthy teeth. You will be able to chew, bite, laugh, smile and talk as if nothing happened.
What is a Root Canal?
“Root canal” refers both to a dental procedure and a location in the tooth. The root canal is a natural cavity within the center of the tooth containing nerves and dental pulp (i.e., soft tissue). As the teeth grow and develop, the root canal provides nutrients to the tooth. But after the tooth has emerged through the gums, the pulp and nerve no longer serve any necessary function. Should the root canal become infected, the nerve and pulp must be removed to save the tooth.
How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?
The only way to know for sure that you have an infected tooth and need a root canal is to see Dr. Porter. He will perform a comprehensive exam and take X-rays to look for dental decay and infection.
Signs that you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Porter as soon as possible include the following:
- Severe pain when eating or putting pressure on a tooth
- Chronic, lingering sensitivity to hot or cold foods or beverages
- A pimple-like bump on the gums near the area where you are experiencing tooth pain
- Gum swelling or tenderness near the area where you are experiencing tooth pain
- Apparent darkening of the tooth
Not every type of tooth pain indicates a problem that requires a root canal. However, it is best to see Dr. Porter to either confirm or rule out a tooth infection.
What to Expect during a Root Canal
If you have been told you need a root canal or are experiencing symptoms that suggest you may need one, there is no reason to worry. Dr. Porter and our team go to great lengths to ensure you are comfortable and do not experience pain during the procedure.
First your tooth and the surrounding area will be completely numbed so you do not feel anything during the root canal. Dr. Porter creates a small opening in the infected tooth and removes all of the infected tissue and nerves as well as other debris. Once this material has been cleaned out, he disinfects the inside of the tooth to protect against future infections. He then inserts a rubber filling material called gutta percha into the root canal of the tooth. Finally, he places a filling over the exterior access hole. Depending on the condition of your tooth, he may recommend placing a crown or another restoration over your tooth to protect it and restore it to normal function.
How to Schedule a Root Canal
If you are experiencing tooth pain, sensitivity or any other troubling symptoms, Dr. Porter can help. Schedule an appointment with our dentist by calling or emailing Porter Dental Health Clinic today.