Elk Valley Times

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Todd McAdams, D.D.S.

When do you need a root canal?

Todd McAdams 300x250 Insider-Web AdIf the cause of your teeth pain is serious decay or infection in the tooth pulp, your dentist may recommend a root canal. A root canal is a multi-step dental procedure that involves removing the infected tooth pulp (and sometimes the nerve) from a tooth, and sealing it to protect against future teeth pain.

The term “root canal” also refers to the actual passages within the tooth between the pulp and the tooth roots. The root canals contain nerves and blood vessels. Once an adult tooth has emerged from the gums, the tooth’s nerve doesn’t serve a specific purpose other than sensing heat, cold, and other stimuli. Removing a nerve in an infected tooth is part of a standard procedure to treat teeth pain caused by decay or infection in the tooth pulp.

Signs that you need a root canal for teeth pain

Not all types of teeth pain are indications for a root canal. But signs of infection severe enough to require a root canal can include:

• Serious teeth pain when eating or when you put pressure on the area.
• Teeth pain and sensitivity to hot or cold that lingers after the hot or cold stimuli have been removed.
• A small, pimple-like bump on the gums near the area of teeth pain.
• Darkening of the tooth.
• Tenderness or swelling in the gums near the area of teeth pain.

Before your actual root canal procedure, your dentist will take x-rays to assess how badly the tooth is infected. The first step in the actual procedure is a local anesthetic to numb the area and prevent teeth pain during the procedure.

After the dentist cleans out the decayed pulp, he or she will use a special composite to fill the center of the tooth. A tooth that has undergone a root canal almost always needs a crown or some other tooth restoration to protect what remains of the tooth and guard against future tooth pain.

After a root canal, you may experience some tooth pain and sensitivity. Be sure to follow a regular oral care routine to maintain your crown and avoid future tooth pain. If you notice increased sensitivity after a root canal, try using soft-bristled toothbrushes and oral care products designed specifically for sensitive teeth.