Do I Need a Root Canal?

A root canal is needed when there has been damage to a tooth that has reached the pulp (the inner area of the tooth). This can happen if the tooth has cracked or chipped, the pulp has become inflamed or infected as a result of repeated dental procedures, or a cavity has gone untreated.

The procedure can spark some anxiety, but it is meant to relieve pain and make a tooth healthy again. It starts with the application of an anesthetic to ensure that you don’t feel any pain. A hole is drilled into the crown (top) of the tooth in order to access the inside of the tooth. The dentist will use specialized tools to remove the decay from the inside of the tooth along with the pulp. The tooth is then cleaned thoroughly and filled with a synthetic material to maintain the tooth structure. A crown is used to cover the tooth and protect it.

Signs You May Need a Root Canal

Some common signs that a root canal treatment is needed include:

  • Pain: A toothache is a very common sign of infection. The nerves are located inside a tooth, so when the decay reaches that area, the pulp can become inflamed, causing you to feel pain.
  • Swelling: The swelling of the tooth can cause the surrounding gums to swell. This can also be a sign of an abscess forming.
  • Sensitivity: More intense sensitivity to hot and cold is a common sign of an infected or decayed tooth. The sensitivity will be prolonged and fairly intense compared to what you might experience with a healthy tooth.

The only way to be sure that a root canal treatment is needed on a tooth is to have a dentist examine and diagnose it. He or she can take x-rays of the tooth to determine whether any issues are present and what the best treatment option is.

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