Save Your Smile With Root Canal Therapy
Nobody looks forward to a root canal. Unfortunately, it can become a necessity if your tooth becomes badly decayed or infected. Decay of the enamel (otherwise known as a tooth cavity) can be simply cleaned and filled if detected early enough. But if the decay manages to escape timely detection and spreads to the pulp of the tooth (the live tissue that contains nerve endings, blood vessels, and nourishes the tooth), it can cause the following symptoms:
- severe tooth pain
- abscessed tooth (pus filled infection at the roots of the tooth)
- swelling and inflammation in the face, neck, or head
- bone loss at the tip of the tooth root
- infection of the surrounding teeth and gums
- eventual tooth loss
Root canal therapy is a highly effective treatment for saving a severely decayed tooth from extraction: once the decayed/infected pulp is removed, the tooth can stay intact without spreading infection to the surrounding teeth and gums.
When Your Dental Health Requires Urgent Action
Untreated dental decay is not the only thing that can damage, inflame, infect, or irritate the tooth pulp. Excessively large fillings and repeated (or improperly done) dental procedures can weaken the enamel and allow bacteria to reach the tooth’s pulp and nervous tissue. Trauma to the face and destructive chewing habits can also seriously injure the tooth–damaging not just the enamel, but the marrow within.
Paying attention to your symptoms can make the difference between saving your tooth or losing it. The telltale signs of severe tooth decay are usually easy to spot, which may include:
- severe tooth pain or sensitivity when chewing or applying pressure
- persistent sensitivity/pain to hot or cold food/liquids, even after it’s gone
- tooth discoloration or darkening
- swelling and tenderness in the surrounding gum tissue
- a pimple on the gums that refuses to go away or keeps coming back
What Should I Expect During a Root Canal?
Getting a root canal can require multiple office visits, depending on the severity of your tooth’s condition. Before treatment can begin, the dentist will take digital X-rays of the affected tooth to assess the extent of the decay. Local anesthesia is then applied to the area surrounding the tooth, to spare you from any pain during the procedure. The dentist will drill into the tooth to remove the infected pulp and nervous tissue, along with any bacteria or debris. Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and emptied of pulp tissue, it will be sealed to prevent food or bacteria from getting inside. Further dental restoration work may be necessary depending on the extent of the decay, which are determined by your dentist on a case by case basis.
Though root canals have a terrible reputation, they are no more painful than having a filling replaced. Post-procedure pain and discomfort are easily remedied with common over-the-counter medications. Patients who are waiting for their permanent filling or crown are advised to avoid chewing on the treated tooth, to prevent any additional damage or pain before the treatment is completed. To ensure proper healing, make sure to brush and floss regularly and rinse with warm salt water to relieve occasional inflammation.
While root canals are generally successful for the vast majority of patients, rare complications can and do happen. Though fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations are made to be durable, they can break down over time through repeated use, allowing bacteria to penetrate the treated tooth. If the tooth can still be saved, an additional root canal may be performed. Otherwise, you may be referred to a specialist if your case is especially serious.
If you are suffering from serious tooth pain and need expert dental treatment, don’t wait–call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-6101 to reserve your appointment at your earliest convenience. If you need to reach our Fort Collins dental office after regular business hours, you can also submit a contact or appointment request online using the form below.