A root canal is a dental procedure that is used to restore the health of a tooth. It is sometimes called root canal treatment or endodontic treatment. Endodontics is a specialization in the field of dentistry that focuses on diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the dental pulp, the soft tissue in the center of each tooth. Root canals are one of the most common endodontic procedures.
You may need a root canal to treat an infected tooth, to prevent a tooth from developing an infection, or for other dental health reasons. How do you know if you need a root canal? Here are some of the most common symptoms that indicate you may be in need of endodontic treatment.
What is a Root Canal?
The root canal is the inner chamber of the tooth that contains soft tissue called dental pulp. Root canal treatment is the procedure that is named for the part of the tooth it addresses. Root canal treatment involves removal of the dental pulp from the inside of the tooth and filling the root canal with replacement material that fortifies the tooth and prevents infection.
Signs You May Need a Root Canal
The following signs and symptoms may indicate the need for root canal treatment:
- Severe Tooth Pain. If your tooth is infected, meaning there is a bacterial infection of the dental pulp, you’ll most likely feel severe pain in the tooth. This pain may be persistent or it may come and go. Either way, the infection in a tooth will not go away on its own, so seek professional treatment.
- Acute sensitivity to heat and cold. Minor tooth sensitivity is normal. But if one tooth is sensitive to heat and/or cold and the sensitivity persists longer than a few seconds, you may have a tooth that is in need of a root canal. Prolonged sensitivity suggests inflammation of the nerve inside the tooth, perhaps due to a crack or cavity.
- Chipped or cracked tooth. A chipped or cracked tooth can expose the layer beneath the enamel, called the dentin, which is softer and thinner than the enamel. If bacteria were to enter the root canal of the tooth through a crack, the tooth is susceptible to infection. A root canal may be done proactively before placing a crown over the tooth.
- Discolored tooth. If a tooth turns gray or brown from the inside, it may be due to an infection or injury to the dental pulp. The dental pulp contains blood vessels that can bleed inside the tooth if they are disturbed, which causes the discoloration of the tooth. Root canal treatment removes the dental pulp as well as the discoloration from inside the tooth, allowing the tooth to be restored with a composite material in an appropriate tooth shade.
- Swollen gum tissue in one area. The gum tissue around an infected tooth may become swollen and tender. If you have swollen gums in just one area of the mouth, it could indicate that a tooth is infected and needs root canal treatment.
- Deep cavity in a tooth. When a tooth has a deep cavity or severe decay throughout the crown of the tooth, it makes the tooth susceptible to infection. Your dentist may recommend a root canal as a proactive treatment to prevent bacteria from invading the dental pulp through a cavity.
What To Do if You Think You Need a Root Canal
If you have any of the above symptoms, contact Lindemann Root Canal Specialists to schedule an evaluation. We are endodontic specialists who provide root canal treatment as well as a wide range of other endodontic services.