Root canal therapy
Often simply called “a root canal,” it may be needed when there is an infection inside the tooth. When the dental pulp becomes inflamed or infected, excruciating pain can result. Pulp is the soft tissue that fills the inside of the tooth. It is made up of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. During root canal treatment, the pulp is removed, the space inside the tooth is disinfected, filled with a special material, and the hole is sealed up.
A root canal is nothing to fear. It relieves pain by getting rid of the infection and is so effective that over 15 million of them are performed in the U.S. each year. This routine procedure generally requires only a local anesthetic, and your mouth should be back to normal within a day or two after treatment. Antetokounmpo can attest to that, as he returned to play the next day.
However, delaying root canal treatment when you need it can have serious consequences. If left untreated, an infection inside the tooth continues to spread, and it may move into the gums and jaw and cause other problems in the body. So, how do you know if you may need a root canal? Here are some signs:
Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures. One sign of nerve damage inside your tooth is pain that is still there 30 seconds after eating or drinking something hot or cold.
Intense pain when biting down. You may feel pain deep within your tooth, jaw, face, or other teeth. The pain may be hard to pinpoint—even if it improves at times, it usually returns.
A chipped, cracked, or discolored tooth. A chip or crack can allow bacteria to enter the damaged tooth, and the tooth may darken if the tissue inside is damaged.
A pimple on the gum. A bump or pimple on the gum that doesn’t go away or keeps coming back may signify that a nearby tooth is infected.
Tender, swollen gums. Swollen gums may indicate an infection inside the tooth or the need for periodontal treatment.
And sometimes, there is no pain, but an infection may be discovered during a dental exam.
Tooth pain should never be ignored, so don’t put off a dental visit when you have a toothache. In fact, if a bad toothache goes away, it could mean that the nerves inside the tooth have died, but the infection may still be raging. Also, be sure to keep up with your regular dental checkups. We may spot a small problem that can be addressed before it becomes a bigger problem that would require more extensive treatment.
Remember, for dental issues, both large and small; we’re on your team! If you would like more information about tooth pain, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Pain? Don’t Wait!” and “Root Canal Treatment: What You Need to Know.”