What are the Signs a Root Canal is Needed?

Each year, over 60 million Americans visit the dentist. Many of these visits can be attributed to cavities, which are small holes in your teeth that allow bacteria to get inside. But sometimes, other dental issues occur that require additional treatments. If you experience severe tooth pain, bleeding, or swelling (other than after eating), you may need a root canal treatment.

Root canals are considered the best option for saving a damaged tooth when an abscess is present. Here are some signs you might need a root canal.

Persistent Pain

Having persistent pain is one way to tell if you need a root canal. The pain might be constant, or it might go away, but it always comes back. You may feel the pain deep in the bone of your tooth, or it might be in your jaw, face or other teeth.

Tooth pain may have other causes, such as gum disease, cavities, or an impacted tooth, but it’s always a good idea to talk with your dentist if you have tooth pain.

Tooth Discoloration

An infection in the pulp of your tooth can cause your tooth to become discolored. Trauma to the tooth or the breakdown of the internal tissue can damage the roots and give the tooth a grayish-black appearance. While there might be other reasons a tooth is discolored, it could be cause for a root canal so talk with your dentist!

Sensitivity to Heat and Cold

When your teeth start to hurt from drinking a hot cup of coffee or drinking ice water, you may need a root canal.

The pain can be just a dull feeling, or it can be a sharp pain that lingers for an extended period of time, even after you’ve finished eating or drinking. If your tooth hurts when you eat or drink something hot or cold, it may be an indication that the blood vessels and nerves in your tooth are infected or damaged.

Swollen Gums

Swollen gums near the painful tooth can be a sign of an issue that requires a root canal. The swelling may come and go. It may be tender when you touch it, or it may not be painful to the touch.

There also might be a pimple like abscess on your gum, which may ooze pus from the infection of the tooth. This can give you an unpleasant taste in your mouth and make your breath smell bad.

A Chipped or Cracked Tooth

If you’ve chipped or cracked your tooth in an accident, in a contact sport, or by chewing on something hard, bacteria can set in and lead to inflammation and infection. Even if your tooth didn’t crack but you did injure it, the injury can still cause damage to the nerves of the tooth. The nerve can become inflamed and cause pain and sensitivity, which may require root canal treatment.

These are just a few signs that you may need a root canal. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk with your dentist. Call us at (402) 420-0999 or and we can talk you through possible solutions.

Steps for Getting A Root Canal

Root canals are no fun, but millions of teeth are treated and saved every year with root canal treatments. Root canal treatment is one type of endodontic treatment, which means it treats the inside of the tooth. Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

Even though root canals can be scary, our dentists walk you through each step and answer all your questions. Keep reading to learn more about the steps of getting a root canal.

Before Treatment Begins

When you arrive at your dentist’s office, you can first expect your dentist to go over any X-rays that have previously been taken to prepare for the procedure. Then, they will administer a local anesthetic using a small needle to numb the area. You may feel a slight pinch, but there is very little pain when the anesthetic is administered. The numbing sensation will take effect almost immediately.

Once numb, the dentist will place a dental dam, which is a small rubber sheet, over the affected tooth to protect and isolate the area. This will keep the tooth clean and dry during the procedure.

During Root Canal Treatment

The root canal treatment itself will take about ninety minutes. Using a specially designed drill, your dentist or endodontist will create an opening in the top of the affected tooth, which will fully expose the top of the tooth pulp, containing the tooth’s damaged nerve and blood vessels. The doctor will then remove tooth pulp from the inside of the tooth and the root.

The space that the pulp occupied will then be carefully cleaned and widened shaping the inner chamber to accommodate a filling. The dentist will then irrigate the area with a variety of solutions to wash away any remaining pulp. The tooth and surrounding area will be thoroughly dried before moving onto the next step.

To prevent infection, an antimicrobial medication will be put on to the root canal. The majority of cases the tooth canals will now be filled with a biocompatible material. The material used is typically gutta-percha, a rubber-like material, that seals to the tooth with an adhesive cement and helps prevent further infection.

Finally, a temporary filling is put in place on top of the tooth to provide protection from food and debris until a permanent filling or crown can be placed. In some cases, your dentist may be able to skip this step and place a permanent filling in the same appointment.

After Root Canal Treatment

Once the root canal procedure is completed, you’ll need to make sure you take extra precautions with the treated tooth. You may experience sensitivity or mild discomfort in the area for a few days- you can use over the counter pain medicine such as acetaminophen. If significant pain or swelling continues, call your dentist. You will most likely have a follow up appointment with your dentist to restore the tooth or remove the temporary filling and place a permanent filling.

After the root canal treatment and restoration with a filling or crown has been completed, your tooth can now provide normal, healthy function. We’re happy to help with any questions you have. Call (402) 420-0999 to schedule an appointment.