Root Canal Therapy: Why and When Do You Need It?

Bacteria enter the tooth’s pulp because of a cavity, chip, or crack. This bacterium causes a tooth infection which severely damages the tooth’s functi...

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Bacteria enter the tooth's pulp because of a cavity, chip, or crack. This bacterium causes a tooth infection which severely damages the tooth's functioning. However, this infection can be removed with root canal therapy to prevent reinfection of the tooth. Also, it helps save the tooth, which otherwise only needs to be extracted.


Recent statistics reveal that around 15 million teeth are treated and saved with root canal therapy or endodontic treatment. 


 This procedure is safe and provides excellent relief to the patient. Find out more about root canal procedures and prepare in advance. 


Root Canal Therapy 


The root canal is an endodontic treatment that helps eliminate inflamed or infected pulp inside a tooth. But this treatment removes the bad pulp which is bothering the tooth. It also cleans the root canal and fills and seals the space accordingly. After the root canal procedure, a crown is placed on the tooth to provide adequate protection. Also, it helps to secure the tooth and return to its normal function. 


A general dentist is trained in administering a root canal procedure that helps remove the bad pulp from inside a tooth. Because of much more expertise, an endodontist is a more suitable choice to perform this procedure. However, it would be better to consult an endodontist or a root canal dentist. 


Steps of a Root Canal Procedure 


Almost every dentist follows the main steps during a root canal procedure. Knowing them in advance will help you prepare better and relieve your dental anxiety. It's good to be well-informed and deal with an issue proactively. Let's quickly explore the steps of a root canal procedure that you might come across. 


  1. Giving local anesthesia 


  1. Placing dental dam 


  1. Approaching the pulp 


  1. Pulp removal 


  1. Shaping the canals 


  1. Filling and sealing 


  1. Final step: crown placement 


Fast Facts and Figures About Root Canal Therapy 


Here are some facts and figures everyone should know about a root canal procedure. It's because root canal therapy is quite common among the masses. And having an insight into the procedure would prepare you better and reduce the level of dental anxiety. So, let's quickly look at the facts and figures about a root canal procedure. 


  • Pain subsiding doesn't mean that it has been cured on its own. If you experience dental pain, do not delay and make the earliest visit to your dentist. There is a possibility of having an infection because of severe dental pain that travels to the roots. So, you might require root canal therapy. 
  • Taking antibiotics when having an infection wouldn't be better. Due to the location of this tooth infection, the antibiotic effect can't reach it, and eventually, you will have to see your dentist. 
  • It is estimated that around 41,000 root canals are performed every day.   
  • To handle them efficiently, general dentists refer about 50% of root canal cases to endodontists. 
  • A root canal procedure doesn't hurt much and can be near painless. However, slight discomfort is usually expected, and it fades away in a day or so. 
  • Root canal procedures require up to two dental appointments to complete the process. The bad pulp is eliminated in the first appointment, and the root canals are cleaned. Afterward, the space is filled with a dental crown to protect the tooth. 
  • Root canal procedure has an impressive success rate of approximately 98%. 
  • If you are a candidate for a root canal, get it done. Otherwise, it would not be easy to save your tooth. 


Why is a Root Canal Procedure Required? 


There are numerous reasons for considering root canal therapy. Some of these include tooth decay, chip or crack in the tooth, faulty crown placement, repeated dental procedures, etc. A root canal procedure is required when the tooth pulp becomes infected or inflamed. This could be due to bacteria that enter the pulp or because of a tooth injury. When the pulp inflammation isn't treated, it can cause severe dental pain or sometimes lead to an abscess (a painful collection of pus). 


When Do You Need Root Canal Treatment? Signs and Symptoms 


A study revealed that root canal symptoms differ as per the bacterial infection. However, some common warning signs indicate your pulp has been infected. Let's get to know these. 


  • Constant Pain 


Having continuous pain is one of the big warning signs to look for. You should immediately visit your dentist if you have dental pain that doesn't go away or pain when pressure is applied. You might also experience jaw, face, or other teeth pain. Dental pain is also possible in case of other issues such as: 


  • A damaged filling 
  • Having a cavity 
  • Gum disease 
  • Wisdom tooth 
  • Sinus infection, and so on
  • No matter your pain, it's always recommended to visit your dentist at your earliest. However, if your pain is persistent, you might have an infected pulp that needs to be removed. 


  • High Tooth Sensitivity 


If your tooth hurts while you eat something hot or cold. Suppose you had coffee, and your tooth starts hurting. Similarly, when you eat warm food, you experience high tooth sensitivity. If your tooth hurts for an extended period, even while you have stopped eating, be ready for a root canal procedure. 


  • Discolored Tooth 


Besides severe dental pain, pulp infection can also cause tooth discoloration. Your tooth might have a grayish-black appearance because of damaged roots. Tooth discoloration can also be there for other reasons, but it's always better to see your dentist.   


  • Swollen Gums or Having a Gum Boil 


Swollen gums near the infected tooth are also one of the warning signs of requiring a root canal. It can give you an unpleasant taste in the mouth or affect the quality of your breath. Swelling could come and go, but it stays there. Moreover, the gums might also become tender, especially when you touch them. At times, you might have gum boiled or, more specifically, a pimple on your gum. When you experience these, immediately visit your dentist, who might recommend a root canal procedure. 


  • Chipped or Cracked Tooth 


If you have a dental injury from playing sports or an accident, your tooth pulp can become infected. It's because bacteria reach it and the nerves around the tooth might also become damaged. The nerves of the tooth may become damaged, and they may cause severe dental pain and tooth sensitivity. So, root canal therapy might be required. Even if your tooth hasn't chipped or cracked after an accident or an injury, you must visit the dentist. 


  • Swollen Jaw 


Sometimes, your jaw becomes visibly swollen. Moreover, the pus doesn't drain from the site. When this happens, a root canal treatment is mainly required. 


  • Loose Tooth 


When your tooth gets an infection, it may feel looser. It's because the pus from the infected pulp can soften the bone, and tooth mobility can be affected. This bone supports the tooth and helps it stay intact. When this bone becomes soft, the infected tooth feels looser than before. Also, the surrounding teeth can be affected, and you might require a root canal treatment.   


Unique Advantages of Having Root Canal Therapy 


  • Prevents reinfection of the tooth 
  • It helps save the infected tooth 
  • Stops jawbone degeneration 
  • Boosts oral and overall health 
  • Safe procedure 


Final Thoughts 


A root canal is an effective procedure to cure the infected pulp. Root canal complications are rare; you can talk to your dentist about any specific illness. Mild discomfort can be present for a few days; however, it has an easy recovery time. If you notice any root canal symptoms, immediately visit your healthcare provider. The sooner an infected tooth is treated, the better it is.


Contact your Walnut Creek Dentist, Dr. Tiziana Procopio Towle, DDS, at Procopio Towle Dental Office Root Canal Therapy: Why and When You Need It.




Who Needs Root Canal Therapy?


*This media/content or any other on this website does not prescribe, recommend, or prevent any treatment or procedure. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the advice of a qualified dentist or other medical practitioners regarding your specific dental condition*

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