How to Know When to Get Root Canal Surgery and Why You Need It

According to the American Association of Endodontists, 41,000 root canals are performed every day.

Like a lot of people, you may shudder just thinking about having root canal surgery. It’s not high on anyone’s to-do list. However, sometimes a root canal is exactly what’s needed to avoid painful infections or, even worse, the loss of a tooth.

But how do you know if you should have a root canal? There are signs you can watch out for which may point to a visit to the dentist.

Read on to find out more about root canals and how to tell if you need one.

What Is Root Canal Surgery?

Root canal surgery is performed on a tooth that has become badly infected. This may be due to long-term decay, repeated dental procedures, trauma to the tooth in an accident, or cracks, chips, or large fillings.

Your tooth is made up of four tissues. Three are hard: enamel, dentin, and cementum. The fourth tissue is pulp, a soft tissue containing blood vessels and nerves.

During a root canal, your dentist will first extract decay and bacteria from the pulp, root, and nerve of the tooth. Next, they will disinfect the area with antibiotics and fill in the empty roots. Finally, they will seal the tooth to prevent future decay.

Once the procedure is over, your dentist may recommend a crown.

Signs You May Need a Root Canal

Changes in your mouth or teeth may be signs you should contact your dentist to see if you need a root canal. Below are 4 signs to look for.

1. Pain

Maybe you feel pain deep in your tooth or when you eat or touch your tooth.

Pain may not be only in your tooth. You may feel it in your face, jaw, or other teeth.

Pain may come and go, hitting in waves, or it might be persistent. Either way, pain in your tooth or gums should always be brought to your dentist’s attention. It could be root canal pain.

2. Sensitivity to Hot or Cold

Do you feel sharp or lingering pain after your morning coffee or when you have ice cream for dessert? This sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks could be a sign something is going on with the blood vessels or nerves in one of your teeth.

3. Changes in Your Gums

There are lots of ways your gums may show symptoms that point to a larger problem:

  • bumps (called fistulas) 
  • swelling
  • darkening color
  • tenderness

All of these may be signs that a nearby tooth is infected.

4. Chipped/Cracked Tooth

A tooth that gets damaged in an accident can leave an opening for bacteria to get in and infect the tooth. Don’t put it off if something happens to your tooth, even if it seems minor.

What Happens Next

If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, your dentist will likely take x-rays and perform an examination to determine whether you need root canal surgery or another dental procedure.

It’s important to take care of your teeth to avoid the need for a root canal. Make sure you’re brushing and flossing daily, using fluoride toothpaste or a fluoride rinse, and limiting sugary foods that can stick to your teeth.

Are you concerned you may need a root canal? Contact us to make an appointment today.

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