Three Signs That Point to a Root Canal
When caught early, a damaged or infected tooth can be easily remedied with a deep clean and protective filling. However, if left longer, the only way to rescue a damaged tooth is to undergo root canal therapy.
What is a root canal?
Root canal therapy involves removing the soft dental pulp within the tooth, cleaning the tooth, treating any present infections and sealing the hole before placing a protective and customised crown to create an even smile.
Root canals are among one of the most common procedures done in a dental clinic, yet thousands of people go for weeks – even months – oblivious to, or trying to ignore, the often painful symptoms.
So what should you look out for?
Pain in and around the tooth
While tooth enamel is designed to withstand daily exposure to food and chewing, parts of the tooth underneath the enamel and encased in gum are not. In fact, these parts of the tooth are riddled with sensitive nerves. Pain in and around the tooth often occurs when dental pulp and dentine is exposed by decay or trauma – allowing bacteria to eat away at it.
Patients often report a variety of pain-like symptoms, from dull aches and throbs to sharp pain that worsens as their posture changes. Occasionally, the pain is only present when triggered by thermal changes (hot or cold beverages) or through chewing.
Discolouration of the tooth
Dental pulp feeds nutrients into the tooth by a direct connection in the gum to the bloodstream. This flow is often compromised in a damaged or infected tooth. As a result, the dental pulp will decay and the tooth will start to take on a greyish-black colour.
Swelling and soreness in the gums
An infection in the tooth often spreads to the surrounding gums, causing localised swelling and soreness. Mild cases of gum infection result in hypersensitivity and some slight reddening of the area, in severe cases, the gums can become puffy and the infection can spread through the face, neck and sinuses.
So I think a need a root canal, now what?
Your first step should be to make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. If the tooth is badly damaged or the discomfort tests your pain threshold, you can call our emergency dental number (02 8004 0055) to make an urgent appointment.
If you can manage the discomfort before your appointment, here are some tips to help alleviate the pain:
- Wherever possible, avoid your triggers (e.g. extremely cold or hot foods)
- Try to supplement your diet with softer foods
- Within product guidelines, use an over-the-counter pain reliever
- Be extra thorough and mindful when brushing and flossing
- If you’re experiencing gum or facial swelling, use cold packs to help alleviate the discomfort
The best piece of advice: don’t hesitate to get professional help. Delaying treatment for a suspected infected or damaged tooth can lead to serious complications that can only be remedied by complete tooth removal.
If you would like more information on root canal therapy or how to keep your teeth healthy, please call our dental clinic in Parramatta on 1300 315 540.
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