If your dentist tells you that you need a root canal, you should not delay treatment. A severely decayed or infected tooth will not get better without treatment. Failing to have a root canal can lead to worsening problems, including tooth loss and severe pain. Here’s what you need to know about getting a root canal to preserve your natural tooth and safeguard your oral health.
Why is a Root Canal Necessary?
A root canal is the last attempt to save a tooth that has become too decayed to be treated with a filling. It is also the only potential treatment for saving a tooth that has become infected. Because natural tooth roots play a vital role in preserving the jawbone, and stabilizing adjacent teeth, saving natural teeth is preferable to tooth extraction.
Root canals save millions of teeth each year, saving patients from ongoing and costly restorations such as dental implants or dental bridges that must be replaced over time.
Root canals also prevent infected teeth from causing a dental abscess. A dental abscess forms when the gum tissue near the infected tooth forms a pocket of pus. The abscess causes pain that may radiate up the face or down the neck. It may lead to facial swelling or bleeding gums. The tooth near the abscess often feels loose, tender, and sensitive to food. If the dental abscess is left untreated, you may develop a fever, as the infection spreads.
Signs You May Need a Root Canal
If you develop a sudden toothache, you should schedule a dental appointment ASAP. A toothache is a symptom of an infected tooth. Other signs and symptoms of severe decay or an infected tooth include:
- Persistent pain
- Throbbing pain in a tooth
- Pain when biting down on food
- Sudden onset of sensitivity to hot or cold foods
- Tooth discoloration
- A tooth that feels loose
- Crack in a tooth
- Swollen gums
How a Root Canal Treats Infected and Decayed Teeth
Root canals successfully treat decay and infection because the interior of the tooth (pulp) is removed during the treatment. After numbing the area near the affected tooth, a tiny hole will be drilled in the tooth allowing your dentist access to the interior of the tooth. The pulp will be removed, along with all decay. The canals in the tooth will be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and sealed. The tooth will then be covered with a dental crown.
Root canals are no longer painful, nor do they take an especially long time. Thanks to advancements in technology, root canals often take about as long as a dental filling. You can also receive your permanent crown the same day, thanks to Computer Aided Design and Computer Aiding Milling technology that allows for same-day crowns.
Patients who are nervous or fearful about getting a root canal are welcome to request sedation with nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
Recovering from a Root Canal
You will likely feel relief from the acute pain you were experiencing by the time your root canal is complete. You may experience lingering tenderness for a couple of days following your treatment. Your dentist may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever for a few days. Most people return to work the same day or the next day, following a root canal. You may eat as soon as the local anesthesia wears off.
Schedule an Appointment for Tooth Pain in NYC
If you’ve developed a toothache, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. Delaying a root canal is only delaying the inevitable. At Koppelman Dental in Midtown Manhattan, our experienced, gentle dentists will accurately diagnose the source of your dental pain, before providing the necessary treatment you need to restore your mouth to good health. To schedule an appointment for tooth pain, call 212-382-3782, or submit an appointment request.