When Do You Need Root Canal Therapy?

shutterstock_225006544Chances are you’ve heard of a root canal – but, do you know why you may need root canal therapy? The procedure is performed when the tooth nerve becomes infected or the center of the tooth (called the pulp) becomes damaged. Root canal therapy is used to clean out the inside of the tooth, ensuring that no bacteria will be able to further damage the nerve, and then sealing the clean tooth. When do you need root canal therapy? Sometimes, a tooth in need of a root canal may not be painful, but your dentist will be able to determine whether your tooth is healthy or not.

Do You Remove The Nerve?

When the pulp of the tooth becomes infected, often times it leads to infection of the tooth’s nerve. During a root canal, the nerve may be removed if your dentist believes that it’s causing harm to the well-being of your tooth. However, the nerve of the tooth does not have a vital function besides the ability to sense heat and cold – so it won’t affect the functionality of your tooth.

Is The Procedure Painful?

Contrary to popular belief, the procedure isn’t excruciating. Although it may be uncomfortable, many patients describe their experience similarly to that of a dental filling.

How Do I Know If My Tooth Is Infected?

There are several signs that will tell you your tooth is infected. If you feel any of the following symptoms, you’ll want to see your dentist as soon as you can.

  • Tooth darkening or discoloration
  • Prolonged sensitivity to temperatures
  • Tender and inflamed gum tissue surrounding the tooth
  • Severe toothache
  • Recurring pimples on the gum tissue

What Does Recovery Involve?

Following your procedure, you may have a temporary filling or crown placed over your tooth to protect it while your dentist is making your permanent ones. In this case, you’ll want to avoid chewing with that specific tooth to prevent further damage or infection.

Otherwise, your tooth may be sensitive afterwards and you may have some swollen and tender gum tissue. Your dentist may give you pain medication or recommend that you use a certain over-the-counter pain reliever to manage any tooth pain you have for a few days. That’s it – majority of patients return to their normal lives the next day!