Root Canal Treatment
Why Would You Need Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal may be required when a tooth is infected. Letting a cavity go without treatment can cause an infection in the pulp of the tooth. Tooth decay from the cavity is corrosive and will wear away the enamel of the tooth into the root canal. The erosion allows bacteria into the pulp where it becomes infected. Antibiotics will not work at this point because they cannot get to the infection inside the canal and pulp. Inflammation due to the infection decreases the blood supply to the tooth, which inhibits the healing process.
When the pulp is inflamed but not infected, it may heal on its own. Your dentist may want see if this will happen before doing root canal treatment. Inflammation may not be harmful at first, but if it does not heal, a root canal will need to be done to avoid infection of the pulp.
An infection in the pulp can affect the bone around the tooth. This can cause an abscess to form. In order to save the tooth, the dentist needs to remove the infected pulp and fill the hole with a material called gutta percha.
Root canals are meant to save the tooth and reduce the need for having it pulled within a few years. Once your root canal procedure is done and the infection is gone, it is possible that the tooth will last throughout your life.
Signs and Symptoms
Infections do not always present with pain immediately, but left untreated will eventually lead to pain in the tooth and gums. In some cases, an abscess will form.
Your tooth might need a root canal if:
- It hurts when you bite down on it, touch it or push on it
- It is sensitive to heat
- It is sensitive to cold for more than a couple of seconds
- There is swelling near the tooth
- It is discolored (whether it hurts or not)
- It is broken