Girl patient goes to the dentist with a toothache in the dental office. Young woman holding the hand of a sick tooth

Get to the Root of It: A Root Canal and You

Sometimes a tooth becomes so damaged from decay that a filling isn’t able to provide enough support or stability. In situations like this, a root canal may be recommended. Unfortunately, for many people just the thought of a root canal is terrifying.

Understanding what a root canal is and why it is needed can help ease your anxiety about this dental procedure.

Taking a Closer Look at a Root Canal

A root canal is a specific type of dental treatment that can potentially save a tooth once it becomes damaged from tooth decay. The decay damages the tooth so badly that the surrounding gums and pulp of the tooth can become infected. If the infection is left untreated, an abscess can form. In a worst case situation, the infection can spread beyond the abscess and spread throughout the body causing severe and sometimes fatal health problems.

When Dr. Brazdo performs a root canal, she is working to remove the nerve and the pulp from inside the decayed tooth. Once the nerve and pulp are removed, the canals are cleaned out and sealed up. Cleaning the canals removes any bacteria or infection that has formed while sealing the tooth up prevents infections from occurring in the future.

What Happens if a Root Canal isn’t Performed?

At first, a root canal may be recommended in an effort to prevent future infections. However, if an abscess or infection is present and you opt to not have a root canal performed, you could experience serious, potentially fatal, health problems.

Some health problems you could experience if you opt to not have a root canal include:

  • Significant bone loss around the root of the tooth or in the jaw
  • Severe swelling in the neck, face, or head that can eventually cause difficulties with breathing
  • Problems with drainage of the tooth that causes the infection to spread throughout the gums and eventually into the skin around your cheek

Signs and Symptoms That Indicate a Root Canal May be Needed

There are several signs and symptoms that are noticeable to you and your dentist that indicate you may need a root canal. Some things that indicate a root canal may be needed include:

  • Swelling in the gums or around the face
  • Significant pain in a specific tooth
  • Infection forming in the gums surrounding a tooth
  • Dark tooth color that indicates significant tooth decay
  • Signs and symptoms that indicate to a dentist that there is drainage from a current infection
  • Changes in the tissue surrounding a tooth

Sometimes a visual examination is all that is needed to determine if a root canal is necessary. However, there are some additional types of testing a dentist can perform to confirm that a root canal is needed. Conducting a hot or cold thermal test, electric pulp testing, and x-rays can help confirm if a root canal is needed.

What to Expect During a Root Canal

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding root canals. Patients can expect the following to occur should they need a root canal:

  • Very little pain occurs during a root canal. Teeth may be sensitive for a few days afterward, but there is no significant pain.
  • Dentists may need two or three appointments for a root canal depending upon the severity of the procedure
  • Both crowns and fillings can be used after a root canal to restore your tooth
  • Root canals are extremely successful as long as you follow up with your dentist for regular exams and professional cleanings  

If you are in need of a root canal or believe you may need one, feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brazdo at Artistic Touch Dentistry in Melbourne, Florida. Our dentists, who perform preventative, cosmetic, and restorative dental services, will gladly assess your individual case and provide you with personal treatment recommendations. Call us today to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive examination with one of our dentists.