Your smile is for life, and that’s why taking care of your teeth and gums is so vital. Yet, life often gets in the way, leading more than 90% of Aussie adults to experience tooth decay at some point in their lifetime.
The good news is there’s a procedure to treat decay-causing tooth infections: the root canal.
During a root canal procedure, a dentist removes the infected pulp (a collection of nerves, blood vessels, and gum tissue) from beneath the dead or dying tooth. This halts the infection in its tracks, allowing the tooth and gums to heal.
Got a pain in your tooth? Then you may be wondering: is this one of the symptoms of needing a root canal?
We’re answering that question and more for you today. To find out if you need to schedule an appointment with a dentist near you, keep reading this guide!
Why Might You Need a Root Canal? The Top 5 Symptoms of Needing a Root Canal
Root canals address teeth that are dead or dying from infection. It should be no wonder, then, that the symptoms of tooth decay and infection are obvious signs you need a root canal.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the top 5 ways to tell if you have a tooth infection and need a root canal.
1. Pain While Chewing and Biting
Do you experience severe pain when biting or chewing food? Pain is one of the first signs that something’s wrong in your mouth. While this could be a symptom of a more serious condition (i.e., periodontitis, TMJ, or even pregnancy), odds are you’re dealing with a simpler issue: tooth decay.
2. Extreme Sensitivity to Hot and Cold
Some sensitivity to hot and cold food and drink is totally normal. It’s when that sensitivity lingers long after the sensation is gone that you should start to worry.
Here’s why: tooth sensitivity is often a sign of cracked or chipped teeth. And bacteria can infect cracked and chipping teeth much faster than healthy teeth.
3. Swelling of the Gums, Face, or Neck
Have you ever woken up with unexplained swelling in the facial regions around your mouth? Then you might be displaying one of the top signs of tooth decay.
Swelling is a sign that your immune system is trying to fight off bad bacteria. It’s also a surefire way to know that your tooth decay is quickly moving toward a full-on tooth infection.
4. Tooth Discoloration
When your tooth enamel changes from pearly white to dingey brown, you can almost be certain that you’re dealing with a dead tooth.
A dead tooth is one that blood no longer flows to because the underlying blood vessels are dead or damaged. At this point, your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment and a dental crown.
5. Darkening, Decayed, or Pimpled Gums
Did you know that bacteria from plaque is the primary cause of infections in the mouth? Well, that same bacteria can cause pimples on your gums.
In advanced infections, mouth bacteria also produce high amounts of acids that eat away at your gums. This process destroys the outer layer of gum tissue, turning it black or grey.
While your dentist may be able to save your tooth at the pimpling stage, blackened gums are another sign of a dead tooth. That means you’ll more than likely need a synthetic replacement.
The Root Canal Procedure
So, you think you’re dealing with one or more of the symptoms of needing a root canal. What’s next? It’s time to schedule an appointment with a local dentist.
Heading in for a new procedure is always nerve-racking. We want to help ease some of your anxieties, and that’s why we’re guiding you through what to expect during a root canal.
Step 1: Pre-Procedure Prep
If he or she hasn’t already, your dentist will first take x-rays of your mouth. These x-rays will help the dentist identify the infection. They also allow your dentist to measure the depth of the tooth canal, which will be important later in the procedure.
After you get into the chair for your root canal, your dentist will apply a local anesthetic. Some dentists may also use nitrous oxide (AKA “laughing gas”) to help with pre-procedure worries.
When you’re all numbed up, the procedure begins.
First, the dentist will place a “dam” over the infected tooth. This helps isolate the area and keeps saliva away from the wound. Once the dental dam is in place, it’s time for the real work to begin.
Step 2: Drilling and Cleaning
Using a drill, the dentist begins by making a small hole in the tooth. This hole allows him or her to access the underlying pulp, which sits beneath the tooth’s enamel and dentin layers in the pulp chamber.
Keep in mind that the infamous drilling noise during this portion of the procedure sounds much more frightening than it really is. You won’t experience any pain or discomfort since you’ll be under anesthesia.
After drilling the small hole, your dentist will use special tools to clean out the infected pulp.
Some teeth have more than one root/canal (for example, your premolars and molars). Every canal must be cleaned out, meaning some teeth will take longer to clean out than others. The procedure may take two to three appointments to clear the tooth infection.
Step 3: Applying the Filling
You’re almost done! Once your dentist finishes cleaning out the infected tooth, they stop up the hole with a filling. And that’s all there is to it.
Step 4: Recovery
In Australia, up to 97% of root canals are successful. While you will deal with some post-procedure side effects like pain and tenderness, a simple over-the-counter painkiller will usually suffice. However, if any pain persists, call your dentist.
Ready to Schedule Your Root Canal Near Coogee WA?
Root canals may be intimidating, but they’re straightforward procedures with extremely high success rates. To save their teeth, most Aussie adults choose to undergo a root canal at the first sign of infection.
Do you have one of the above symptoms of needing a root canal? Contact us to book an appointment with Coogee Plaza Dental today!