ROOT CANAL THERAPY is a procedure that cleans out decayed dental pulp so that the tooth doesn’t have to be extracted. This procedure is performed more than 15 million times a year in the US alone, and 41,000 times a day! What are some of the signs that a tooth has reached the point of needing root canal therapy?
1. Loosening of the Tooth
Teeth becoming loose is a perfectly normal part of growing up, but once all our baby teeth are gone, we don’t want any of the adult teeth to start wiggling. Mobility in an individual tooth is a symptom of that tooth being infected. When a tooth dies, acidic waste products can soften the bone around it.
2. Chipped or Cracked Tooth
If a tooth is damaged, whether because of an accident or simply cracking one while chewing, it can give bacteria access to the pulp chamber at the core of the tooth, leading to inflammation and infection. Even an injury without visible damage can harm the nerves and need treatment.
3. Tooth Pain and Sensitivity
A tooth that needs root canal therapy won’t always be painful, but a painful tooth nearly always needs root canal therapy. If your tooth hurts when you put pressure on it, that could indicate severe decay or nerve damage, particularly if it persists after the pressure is off. As the pulp inside the tooth dies, it can irritate the ligament around the tip of the root, making it very painful when chewing or touching the tooth.
If your tooth is highly sensitive to hot and cold food and drink, it could also indicate damage or infection to the nerves. If you have a long-lasting toothache, regardless of temperature or pressure, that’s also a sign it’s time to see the endodontist. The pain could have other causes, but it’s not a good idea to assume it isn’t a dangerous tooth infection.
4. Swollen Gums
Swelling in the gums near a painful tooth is a good indicator that the tooth needs root canal treatment. Swelling may come and go, and it may or may not be tender to the touch. Swelling can also be associated with an abscess, which is when the infection in the tooth spreads to the bone around the root. It may ooze pus, resulting in a foul taste and bad breath.
5. Tooth Discoloration
When a tooth is infected, it sometimes becomes discolored. We’re not talking about a surface-level stain here; a tooth taking on a grayish-black appearance is a good indicator of internal tissue breakdown.
Let’s Save That Tooth!
It’s always better to avoid the need for an endodontic procedure by keeping our teeth healthy, but tooth infection still happens to the best of us. It’s important to get it treated when it happens, not only to preserve the natural tooth, but also to protect overall health. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, give us a call so that we can find out if root canal treatment can help!