There are some scenarios where it’s necessary to extract a tooth in the interest of your dental health. But as dentists, we will always endeavour to preserve natural teeth wherever possible. One of the ways we can achieve this is to perform a root canal. In this piece, we’ll be looking at why you might need a root canal, what’s involved and what this treatment can achieve for your long-term dental health.
What is Root Canal Treatment?
An excellent starting point is to outline what root canal treatment actually is. Also referred to as endodontic treatment, root canal treatment is required when a tooth’s pulp (its blood or nerve supply) becomes infected through decay or trauma. In some cases, the infection spreads through the tooth’s root canal system if left untreated, resulting in an abscess. If the infection spreads even further, the best course of action may be to remove the tooth.
The Telltale Signs: How Can I Tell if I Need a Root Canal?
While several symptoms reflect the need for root canal treatment, sometimes there are no symptoms at all. With this in mind, it’s essential that you come along to routine appointments so that we can pick up on any problems you can’t spot at home.
Below are some of the symptoms associated with an infected tooth root. If you experience any of these, you should endeavour to make an appointment straight away, as the sooner we address the symptoms, the more likely we are to prevent extraction:
Sensitivity to hot and cold: if you’ve noticed sharp and intense sensitivity around a tooth after consuming hot or cold food and drink, this could mean your tooth is infected.
Swelling and tenderness around the root: as bacteria enter a tooth, it can cause swelling and inflammation at the tip of the root. An abscess can make this even worse, causing your face to swell. If you are experiencing this, you should seek immediate medical attention, as in severe cases, this can impact your breathing.
Discolouration: if you’ve sustained trauma to a tooth and noticed that it’s become discoloured (specifically a shade of grey or black), this could indicate the need for a root canal. This kind of discolouration means some change has occurred in the nerve space and warrants making an appointment as soon as possible.
Feeling generally unwell: tender lymph nodes, accompanied by feeling unwell, could be a sign you need endodontic surgery ASAP. At this point, the infection will be quite advanced and require immediate attention.
Foul taste in your mouth: infected teeth can cause a highly unpleasant smell and taste in your mouth – most patients describe it as a bitter or sour taste.
What to Expect from a Root Canal
A root canal is a complex (but painless) procedure that usually involves two or more appointments. The stages of treatment are:
- Examination: your endodontist here at Shields will examine your tooth to establish if a root canal can salvage the tooth. If this is not the case, we can look at performing an extraction.
- Removal of infected pulp: we remove the infected matter from the tooth and drain any abscesses.
- Cleaning of root canal: we clean the area and shape to resemble your natural canal’s original anatomy.
- Temporary filling: a temporary filling is placed to protect your tooth and left to settle.
- Second visit: we will check over your tooth and permanently fill it once the infection has cleared.
Post-Treatment: The Benefits of a Root Canal
Be pain-free: An infected tooth can cause severe pain that has the potential to get in the way of your daily life. Do the things you enjoy every day, pain-free after a root canal. You can expect any associated pain to subside around 2-3 days after the procedure.
Enjoy your food again: As mentioned above, root canal infections can emit an unpleasant taste in the mouth, and an abscess can exacerbate this further, making eating an unappealing prospect. After treatment, you’ll be able to enjoy eating again without the worry of enduring a foul taste in your mouth and without pain.
Have a beautiful smile again: Thanks to modern dental techniques, there shouldn’t be any darkening or discolouration of the tooth post-treatment. However, some patients opt to have their tooth crowned, giving them the confidence to show off a rejuvenated smile.
Root Canal Treatment at Shields – Putting You and Your Comfort First
Here at Shields, our priority is to make you feel comfortable, and we take the patient journey very seriously. If you feel anxious about the prospect of a root canal, please let our team know, as they will help to put you at ease and can offer sedation if you’re struggling with dental nerves.
The Moral of the Story? Routine Appointments are Your Teeth’s Best Friend
Coming along to routine hygienist appointments and dentist appointments will undoubtedly minimise the chance of an infected tooth from reaching a point of no return. Our dentists and hygienists here at Shields can flag any concerning issues early and help you implement a good at-home routine that will preserve your natural teeth for as long as possible.
Contact Our Limerick Dental Practice
Are you interested in finding out more about root canal treatment? There are several ways you can get in touch with our friendly team, who will book you in for an appointment with us here at Shields Dental & Implant Clinic.
We offer free, no-obligation video consultations during which patients can find out all they need to know about our treatment options. Our friendly reception team can answer any questions you may have about this. All you have to do is pick up the phone!