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How Do I Know I Need a Root Canal

Posted on January 09, 2023

Dentistry can help relieve discomfort and pain caused by tooth infections or pulpal nerve damage. Your dentist may recommend a root canal if they spot any signs of infection or nerve damage, helping save your tooth and helping you maintain your natural smile.

An untreated infected tooth can lead to a severe infection, bone loss or needing to remove the tooth. Below, you’ll learn about root canal procedures and symptoms that indicate you need a root canal to manage your oral health.

What Is a Root Canal?

Root canal treatment is done to save and repair a tooth that’s badly damaged or infected rather than removing it. Root canals are an excellent alternative to removing teeth, helping people save molars and other teeth essential for chewing.

The term root canal refers to cleaning out the canals within a tooth’s root and removing the nerve endings to eliminate tooth pain. Before advancements in modern dentistry, root canals were a painful procedure. Nowadays, dental patients can rest easy, thanks to advances in dental techniques and local anesthesia. People feel little to no pain during root canal procedures. Living with a decaying tooth is usually more painful than a root canal procedure.

Alternatives to root canals include extracting the dead tooth and replacing the tooth with an implant, partial denture or bridge. You can also seek no additional treatment if the pain isn’t bothersome. However, getting a root canal can massively improve your comfort and allow you to keep your natural teeth.

Do I Need a Root Canal?

Do I Need a Root Canal?

A root canal of a tooth is necessary when bacteria invade the canal inside it, infecting the pulp and causing nerve pain. Root canals are needed if a cavity is left untreated, allowing a tooth to decay to a point where the root becomes exposed, leaving it vulnerable to infection. A cracked or damaged tooth due to trauma can also make it necessary for a root canal.

Sometimes, you may not notice signs that you need a root canal. You may not experience any pain or symptoms at first. However, many people experience specific symptoms that indicate they need a root canal, including:

  • Tooth pain that doesn’t go away: You can have many dental issues that cause pain, especially throbbing pain. Exposed or damaged nerves can cause deep pain radiating to your other teeth, jaw or face, indicating you need root canal treatment.
  • A tooth sensitive to touch: You may notice one of your teeth is sensitive when brushing or eating, causing shooting pain or discomfort. Sensitive teeth are one common sign you need a root canal, which can help resolve sensitivity that leads to pain.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold: Sensitivity isn’t limited to pain. Sometimes, your teeth might be sensitive to hot or cold. You may notice discomfort or pain when eating warm foods or ice cream. If you notice your teeth have become more sensitive when eating cold or hot foods, it may be time to go for a dental visit to determine if an infected tooth is causing it.
  • Tender or swollen gums: An infected tooth can cause pus to collect in the affected area. As a result, your gums can become tender or swollen, which indicates a need for a root canal.
  • Tooth damage: If your tooth has sustained damaged and is cracked or broken, it can leave your canals and pulp vulnerable to infection, causing pain, swelling and discomfort. If your teeth have been damaged, consult a dentist about the possibility of a root canal to relieve pain and discomfort or to address the issue before it becomes a problem.

Reasons to Get a Root Canal

Getting a root canal has several benefits for your health and well-being. If you have an infected tooth or think you might need a root canal, there are many reasons you should seek out treatment, including:

  • Preventing the infection from spreading to surrounding teeth.
  • Easing symptoms associated with infected teeth, such as pain or discomfort.
  • Reducing the risk of jawbone damage.
  • Eliminating the need for a tooth extraction.

Getting a root canal can help you save your teeth, letting you maintain your natural smile and eat the foods you enjoy. Root canals can also limit the need for ongoing dental work, which can be time-consuming, uncomfortable and expensive. Root canals are often the best choice when you have an infected tooth, and it’s best to catch an infection as early as possible to prevent further infection and the need to remove teeth.

The long-term success of root canals is around 92%, especially as advancements continue to be made in the dental field. You can rest assured a root canal can help you find relief from tooth infections, alleviating pain and discomfort that interferes with your daily life.

The Root Canal Process

Root canals follow the same general procedures, regardless of which dental office you go to. Before you start the process, your dentist will take X-rays of your affected tooth to assess the extent of the damage and ensure root canal therapy is the best treatment option. Once your root canal process begins, you can expect the following:

  1. Administering anesthesia: Local anesthesia is injected into the gums to numb the nerves, helping eliminate any pain you might feel during the procedure. If you’re nervous, talk to your dentist about medications to help you relax, which can be administered orally, through IV or nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas.
  2. Placing a dental dam: Once you’re numb, your dentist will place a rubber dam over the area, isolating the tooth and ensuring it stays dry during treatment.
  3. Making an access hole: The next step is to create a small opening in the tooth’s crown so the dentist can access the pulp.
  4. Removing the pulp: Your dentist will use small dental tools to remove the nerves, tissue and blood vessels in the tooth.
  5. Shaping the canals: Once your dentist has removed the pulp from the inside of the tooth, they will clean, disinfect and shape the root canals and pulp chamber.
  6. Filling the canals: Once the dentist empties the canals in your tooth, they will fill the space with a flexible, rubbery material called gutta-percha.
  7. Sealing the tooth: The dentist will complete the work inside the tooth and place a temporary filling, helping seal the tooth and preventing bacteria from finding their way back inside.
  8. Placing the final restoration: In many cases, your dentist will need to place a final crown on the tooth to add protection and restore your bite. Crowns are custom-made to the shape of your tooth and mouth, meaning they take some time to make. Crowns can be made in about two to three weeks. Once your crown is complete, you will return to your dentist to have it placed. In some cases, you may be able to have a crown positioned at your root canal appointment.

Being informed about the process and knowing what to expect can make you feel more comfortable when you go in for your root canal treatment.

Trust the Professionals at Midtown Endodontist NYC for Your Root Canal

Trust the Professionals at Midtown Endodontist NYC for Your Root Canal

An infected tooth can be more than an inconvenience. It can also cause discomfort and pain that interferes with your daily life. Midtown Endodontist NYC is here to help. Our professionals provide high-quality care to help you find relief from your tooth pain. We pride ourselves on delivering warm, friendly service to relieve stress and make your treatment as seamless as possible.

We offer free consultations to ensure you receive the best treatment for your condition. Our payment options are flexible, offering a full spectrum of treatment at a price you can afford. We’re here to help you improve your oral health and eliminate pain and discomfort. Contact us today to learn how we can help, or book an appointment!

About Dr. Steven Lipner

Dr. Steven Lipner is an experienced Root Canal Specialist in NYC providing his patients with exceptional care. You can see Dr. Lipner at his Midtown East Manhattan practice, LipnerEndo, where he employs the benefits of latest dental technology, from Digital X-rays to High-Powered Microscope to achieve the best results & maximum precision.

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